Would you buy chocolate wrapped in paper declaring “produced by using slave workforce”?
Neither would I.
Yet I like devouring chocolate.
Of all my vices eating chocolate might have been the nastiest one – until recently, on my latest visit to Amsterdam, I discovered Tony’s Chocolonely.
Tony’s Chocolonely is located in Amsterdam’s Westerpark district, on the north side of the city’s historic centre. Westerpark is Amsterdam’s first car-free area and in the same building where Tony’s is located, you’ll also find a cinema and several restaurants.
Tony’s Chocolonely’s story begun in 2003 when the investigative journalist Teun Van De Keuken reported on slave workforce used in cocoa bean production. His thesis was that every one of us not concerned about the origin of the chocolate we are eating is supporting modern time slavery. Teun, that is Tony, came up with a swifty plan and reported himself to the police. Unsurprisingly, he was not convicted of promoting slavery – this would have meant that almost all of us Westerners would be sitting in our local jail with a glass of red wine in one hand, and a bar of chocolate in the other.
But Tony was determined: with his own chocolate brand he would show that producing profitable and slave free chocolate was possible. The origin and the cocoa farms were inspected closely and chosen on the slave-free basis. During Tony’s Chocolonely’s first year they made 1 million dollar profit, this year the aim is 50 million dollars.
And seeing the bold text “SLAVE FREE CHOCOLATE” on Tony’s chocolate wrappings is an effective sight. And inside, you’ll find sinfully delicious chocolates.
Yet, in 2015, Tulane University in the US found out that over two million children are working in Ghana’s and the Ivory Coast’s cocoa farms. Since 2010 the figures have worsened by 13%.
Meanwhile, ten years after his master plan, Tony himself is already working on other projects, but the legacy of Tony’s Chocolonely has proved its point: it is possible to produce economically viable and ethically sound chocolate.
So if one little chocolate factory can do this, why not the others?
“Alone we make slave-free chocolate, together we make all chocolate 100% slave free. So we ask you to join in. The more people choose slave free and share our story, the sooner 100% slave free becomes the norm in chocolate.
The choice is yours. Are you in?” – Tony’s Chocolonely
1014 DA Amsterdam
P.S. If you are heading to Amsterdam, check out my hotel tips for all budgets in this link!