Tony’s Chocolonely expands in US and renews UK Glastonbury festival venture

Ethically founded chocolate company, Tony’s Chocolonely, has recorded notable new investment in the business, as its presence in the US has almost quadrupled in four years, reports Neill Barston.

As the company, which is set to play its part at this year’s World Confectionery Conference in September, described as an impact brand, has noted key revenue growth in the past two years, and has been bolstered by news of Howard Schultz, Starbucks former chief executive joining as an investor of in its operations, as it continues to grow its market share.

Notably, within the next year, the company’s distinctive chocolate will be available in 20% more stores than the year prior thanks to a new national retail partnerships with major US retailer Walmart, adding to its existing distribution through familiar names such as Whole Foods, Target, Safeway and CVS.

This expanded availability and selection is a testament to the impact brand’s commitment to making ethically produced chocolate more accessible to consumers across the nation.

Tony’s commits to paying a living income for all its cocoa, and tackles child labor and deforestation issues with full transparency. As a result, the rapid US growth it has experienced directly benefited more than 18,000 small holder farming families last year.

As Tony’s Chocolonely expands rapidly in the U.S, it is proud to welcome Howard Schultz, Starbucks former chief executive officer and chairman emeritus, as a shareholder, who recently took a minority shareholding in the company. This investment follows a 2023 funding round that was raised from existing majority shareholder, Verlinvest, and JamJar Investments.

These investments reflect both the confidence in Tony’s strong growth trajectory and the increasing investor interest in socially responsible businesses that are challenging industry norms. As Tony’s Chocolonely has expanded its shareholder base, it has entered in to a unique Mission Lock legal structure to ensure its ambitions to end exploitation in the cocoa industry are locked in for the long term with oversight from an independent set of Tony’s Mission Guardians, led by US impact entrepreneur Seth Goldman.

In response to the accelerating demand for its products, part of the recent funding round has been used by Tony’s Chocolonely to invest in US production capabilities in Chicago. This strategic move not only emphasizes the impact company’s commitment to meeting market demand but also enhances its agility and responsiveness in supplying its high-quality, ethically sourced chocolate to US consumers.

“We are incredibly proud of the strides we’ve made in the US market,” said Douglas Lamont, CEO of Tony’s Chocolonely. “Our expanded retail presence, coupled with strategic investments in production and our exciting new investment partnerships, are all part of our larger ambition to end exploitation in the cocoa industry. On the investment by Howard Schultz Lamont said “We are proud to welcome Howard Schultz as an investor in the company, and we are looking forward to drawing on his extensive experience of building a global consumer brand and company. Tony’s rapid revenue growth, rising popularity with US consumers and increased investor interest demonstrates that building a company that balances shareholder returns with its impact on people and planet is not only right thing to do but the smart thing to do for companies today.”

Tony’s Chocolonely invites retailers and consumers alike to join its movement to end exploitation in cocoa and to be a part of the change towards a more ethical and sustainable chocolate industry.

UK Oxfam initiative returns
Meanwhile, in Britain, following the success of last year’s partnership, Tony’s has renewed its partnership with Glastonbury to give away five pairs of tickets to the festival. The tickets will be hidden in limited-edition bars that will raise money for the international poverty-fighting organisation, Oxfam.

Last year’s joint initiative raised nearly £45,000 for Oxfam’s work in combating poverty and inequality – an issue deeply intertwined with Tony’s mission, as poverty is the root cause of child labour and exploitation in the cocoa industry.

Eager to amplify their impact, the three partners are aiming to surpass last year’s achievements and connect with a wider audience. So, Tony’s Chocolonely is adding a vegan flavour to the mix, extending the opportunity for more fans to enjoy a Tony’s treat whilst trying to find a pair of highly sought-after tickets to the sold-out Glastonbury Festival 2024.

Continuing the tradition from last year, Tony’s will be launching limited-edition Glastonbury X Tony’s Chocolonely bars in two of the nation’s favourite flavours – milk caramel sea salt and dark almond sea salt. The bars will have five hidden Choco Coupons that can each be redeemed for 2 tickets to the famous Glastonbury Festival 2024. The lucky fans will be able to see global icons including Dua Lipa, Coldplay, SZA, Shania Twain and many, many more – an unforgettable experience with a true impact.

The limited-edition Glastonbury x Tony’s Chocolonely bars will be on sale exclusively at Oxfam stores and the Oxfam Online Shop from 8th April, while stocks last. Proceeds from the sale of these bars will directly contribute to Oxfam’s ongoing efforts in combating poverty and inequality.

Nicola Matthews, UKI Head of Marketing at Tony’s Chocolonely said: “At Tony’s we understand that lasting change happens when we join forces with those who bring us closer to making our mission a reality. It’s been amazing to see how our partnership made a real difference last year and we’re excited to keep the momentum going and make an even bigger impact this year. Oxfam and Glastonbury are incredible partners to raise awareness of the many issues that continuously affect our world.”

Lorna Fallon, Oxfam’s Trading Director, said: “We’re so excited to be partnering with Tony’s Chocolonely and Glastonbury for a second year on this amazing prize giveaway exclusively for our shoppers.”

There are still 1.56 million cases of child labour and widespread deforestation present in the chocolate industry in Ghana and Ivory Coast. The root cause of this exploitation of people and planet in the cocoa industry is poverty. At Tony’s Chocolonely it is their mission to lead by example and show the world that chocolate can be made differently: in taste, packaging and most importantly in the way they treat cocoa farmers.

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