Hey Choco Fans, we want to share our response to all the talk in the press about Tony’s being removed from the ‘Slave Free Chocolate’ list. As always, we want to be as transparent as possible, and clarify a few important things..
So, what’s all the fuss about? A couple of months ago, Tony’s was removed from Slavefreechocolate.org’s list of ethical chocolate companies. Nope, not because there were suddenly cases of modern slavery in our value chain, because we have never found any cases of modern slavery in our chain. And because we have insight into our entire chain, we can immediately trace and remediate other abuses, such as child labour. No, the reason we are no longer on this particular list is because we work with Barry Callebaut, our chocolate producer, who is accused of abuses in their supply chain. You can read more below on exactly how this works and why we work with Barry Callebaut.
Are we no longer listed as an ‘ethical chocolate brand’? Slavefreechocolate.org is not an official certification. When it comes to official certifications like Fairtrade and B-Corp, Tony’s passes with flying colours. Ultimately, all these organisations are working towards the same goal to end human rights violations in the cocoa industry. The author of Slavefreechocolate.org, for whom we have much respect, does not currently feel that we fulfil all of the criteria to be included on their list. This is nothing new to us though – we haven’t been included on several lists of ethical chocolate suppliers in the past because of our decision to source cocoa directly from Ghana and Ivory Coast. Many feel that sourcing from those countries automatically means that there will be illegal labour and modern slavery in your supply chain. We have deliberately chosen this more difficult route for that reason – so we can change it. If we simply ignore the problems in West Africa, or switch sourcing away we will never solve the issue which is why we go to where the problems are - so we can solve them. Similarly, the author of the Slave Free Chocolate list feels that us working with Barry Callebaut is at odds with our mission to make all chocolate 100% slave free, but we work with Barry Callebaut to make this mission possible on a global scale.
Why do we work with Barry Callebaut? Some critics believe we shouldn’t work with Barry Callebaut, one of the biggest cocoa processors in the world. But again, this decision is deliberate. Our mission is to make 100% slave free the norm in chocolate, not just our chocolate but all chocolate worldwide. The 3rd pillar of our roadmap is to inspire others to act, most importantly to inspire other big chocolate companies to adopt our 5 Sourcing Principles. In 2005, we deliberately chose to partner with Barry Callebaut to show that it is possible to be fully traceable while working with a large processor. This way we show that every chocolate company can work according to our 5 sourcing principles. From the start, Barry Callebaut has believed in our mission and collaborated with us to set up fully segregated processing for our 100% traceable beans so they are never mixed with other beans. Working with Barry Callebaut allows us to further scale up our production and enables us to grow Tony’s Open Chain by processing the 100% traceable cocoa beans from our mission allies, too.
Do we make significant savings from working with Barry Callebaut? No – we pay more to ensure our cocoa beans are fully segregated and therefore 100% traceable. We may have some efficiency advantages vs smaller ethical brands, but these are not the brands that we are trying to influence to change because they already do great stuff . We want to show the biggest chocolate brands that it is possible to make delicious, profitable chocolate that is free from modern slavery and illegal child labour. If we made our chocolate ourselves, big chocolate companies could disregard our 5 Sourcing Principles as it wouldn’t be possible for them to adopt or use at scale.
Is there illegal labour in Tony’s supply chain? We have never found a case of modern slavery in our supply chain. But we do find instances of illegal child labour occurring on the cocoa farms where we source our beans. We have always been 100% transparent about this. And fully clear that it is not acceptable. Which is why we actively look for instances of illegal child labour, so we can proactively solve them. We use 100% traceable beans, so we know exactly which farms we are working with, and we have a Child Labour Monitoring and Remediation System (CLMRS) in place across all 7 cocoa cooperatives that we source from in Ghana and Ivory Coast. Last year we found 387 cases of illegal child labour and remediated 221.
Most big chocolate companies do not know how many cases of illegal labour there are in their cocoa supply chain, so they cannot work to remediate them. But because we have a 100% traceable supply chain (as validated by PwC in our annual reports), we can take 100% accountability for eradicating the problem.
We welcome any challenge and debate that helps to raise the bar in the chocolate industry and gets us closer to making 100% slave free the norm in chocolate. You can read more about our latest impact results here.