Purpose & Profit: How Tony's Chocolonely is Transforming the Cocoa Industry to Address the Risk of Child Labor in the Supply Chain

How companies respond to the coronavirus crisis is being scrutinized by media, politicians and customers. Those who have not treated staff well, or failed to provide appropriate medical equipment, may find that they do not recover from the intense criticism they are facing. In the post-Covid-19 world, companies who can demonstrate purpose—such as Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) commitments—will be most likely to survive and thrive. Before the crisis struck, we were already curious about how companies are achieving socially responsible and profitable operations, so we sent a reporter to Amsterdam to investigate. Our reporter visited Tony’s Chocolonely, which was founded in 2006 by a journalist who wanted to eradicate modern slavery in the cocoa industry by developing “100% slave-free” chocolate. Tony’s has since become one of the biggest chocolate brands in the Netherlands, and recently expanded to the U.S. and the UK.

Transparency, traceability and fairness

Anne-Wil Dijkstra may have the best job title in the world—she is “Choco Co-Captain” at Tony’s Chocolonely. She gave us a tour of the company’s headquarters near Amsterdam’s Westerpark and explained the steps Tony’s takes to root out modern slavery in cocoa supply chains:

  • Raising awareness of slavery in the cocoa industry. Its bars are divided into uneven chunks to highlight inequality in the chocolate supply chain.
  • Ensuring traceability of the cocoa beans used to make its chocolate and using technology to promote transparency across the stages in its supply chain.
  • Paying a premium price to farmers and working with farmers to provide training to improve productivity, quality and environmentally sustainable practices.
  • Encouraging all chocolate manufacturers, distributors and retailers to join their Open Chain, a partner platform through which they share knowledge, tools, and codes of practice.

What is the lesson for other companies tackle modern slavery in their supply chain? Paul Schoenmakers, Head of Impact at Tony’s Chocolonely, told us the key is to understand and get to know your suppliers. “In every chocolate bar that we sell, we know 100% where that cocoa came from because we believe that if you have a direct relation with the cocoa farmers that supply to you, you also become more connected with the problems you have,” he said. Last year, Tony’s Chocolonely came across 268 cases of child labor. “It’s a really good thing because if we have found a problem, we know how to fix it,” Paul said.

Purpose & Profit are Possible

This six-minute film is the first of a series of three videos from Amsterdam. During the trip, we spoke to experts in business and investment who told us that companies will either fail or thrive based on whether they make the shift towards socially conscious business. There are many compelling reasons to make this shift—but perhaps nobody makes the case more convincingly than Anne-Wil at the end of our film. “I think it is possible for all companies to be purposeful and make a profit, of course,” she said. “You have to make a positive change in the world. Every company needs a good mission with positive impact and that is your goal, because profit is a means, not a goal.” Is your organization ready to meet these ethical expectations—and still satisfy profit-focused stakeholders?

Next Steps