Tony’s Chocolonely claims Stop Slavery Award for anti child labour campaigning
Dutch-based ethically founded chocolate brand Tony’s Chocolonely has claimed the Stop Slavery Award, recognising its campaigning on child labour within cocoa supply chains serving the confectionery sector, writes Neill Barston.
As the business revealed to Confectionery Production, its accolade, which was presented by the Thomson Reuters Foundation, honours corporations that go above and beyond their peers in the effort to eradicate forced labour, the worst forms of child labour, and other forms of slavery.
The company has gained prominence within the sector for its mission of creating ‘slave free chocolate,’ though it has acknowledged that there remain significant challenges in eradicating the issue, with child labour still found within its own sourcing chains in West Africa.
As previously reported, there remain more than 1.5 million children in Ivory Coast and Ghana who are exposed to illegal child labour, with the pandemic of the past two years, and fluctuating cocoa prices, placing further pressures on this core issue of future industry sustainability.
Tony’s has taken on a number of initiatives in recent years to raise awareness of child labour, including a campaign at Christmas featuring a missing piece of chocolate within its calendar, designed to provoke conversation on the inequalities in cocoa supply chains.
Speaking on the topic to Confectionery Production, the company’s head of impact, Paul Schoenmakers, said that it had put forward a transparency business model of additional premiums paid to segregate beans from its sourcing partner, Barry Callebaut. Furthermore, he noted its continued determination to deliver on traceability within its trading, noting that it remained committed to highlighting any infringement of its child labour policies.
In awarding the company its honours, the Thomson Reuters Foundation said: “Tony’s Chocolonely has won this year’s Stop Slavery Enterprise Award for Goods and Service Companies for its standout commitment to transparency – with the confectionary company commended for reporting on both its positive and negative impacts, as well as its child labour monitoring and remediation activities.
Judges praised Tony’s Chocolonely for its willingness to acknowledge and confront entrenched challenges in the cocoa sector, including deliberately working in Ghana and Ivory Coast to improve supply chains and spotlight the root causes of modern slavery and child labour”.
There are currently 1.56 million children working illegally and at least 30,000 instances of modern slavery on cocoa farms in Ghana and Ivory Coast, where 60% of the world’s cocoa comes from. This is because of the unequally divided cocoa value chain which means farmers are living in systemic poverty – the root cause of these issues.
Since 2005, Tony’s Chocolonely has been on a mission to make 100% slave free the norm in chocolate. By winning the Stop Slavery Award, Tony’s hopes to inspire more companies to join in the fight to end modern slavery and child labour in the chocolate industry by joining Tony’s Open Chain; an initiative that invites companies to take full responsibility of their supply chains by adopting Tony’s way of ethical and sustainable sourcing.
Henk Jan Beltman, CEO of Tony’s Chocolonely, says: “The vision of Tony’s Chocolonely is 100% slave-free chocolate. Not just our chocolate, but all chocolate worldwide. This is our raison d’être. We believe that all companies carry a responsibility to make the world nicer. We are over the moon to receive the prestigious Stop Slavery Award. It is an important nod to our roadmap towards change and a confirmation that we are on the right track to achieve our mission. Let’s make impact together.”