‘Free chocolate; reads the flashing neon sign above a stairwell on a street in the middle of Soho, London – and if you are quick and in the vicinity over the next couple of days you may just be able to grab yourself a couple of bars …
Except nothing is actually free these days and Tony’s Chocolonely, the company behind the PR stunt in central London, was not actually giving away free chocolate – but sending out a powerful message regarding slave-free chocolate in the cocoa industry.
Before arriving on the top floor where the chocolate is on display, visitors are first guided into a darkened room to watch a video on where, and under what conditions, cocoa is grown on most plantations in West Africa.
'Enough is enough'
Tony’s Chocolonely started in 2005 in The Netherlands when investigative journalist Teun Van der Keuken (Tony) identified that illegal child labor and modern slavery were still commonplace on cocoa farms in West Africa. He decided ‘enough is enough’ and set an example by ‘creating incredibly tasty chocolate made differently, to inspire the rest of the industry to change for the better’.
Since then, Tony’s Chocolonely has grown to be the number one chocolate brand in the Netherlands, - but says its mission has not yet been accomplished and it needs more support to change the industry.
“We are crazy about chocolate, serious about people. We aren’t just a chocolate company; we are chocolate makers with a serious social mission who exist to make 100% slave free the norm in chocolate,” it says.
Tony’s Chocolonely is rolling out its slave-free product lines across the country and views the UK as “a nation of serious chocolate lovers”.
In his press conference (see video above) Henk Jan, chief chocolate officer, said Tony’s Chocolonely is not ‘a chocolate company, but an impact company’.
In the company’s annual report, he writes: “To make a real impact we need to win the hearts of consumers in the home markets of Big Choco, so they cannot avoid us anymore. The counterpart of delay is acceleration, so we’ll be starting our own team in the UK in the upcoming year.”
Beltman told the UK press that he expects there will not be any illegal labour in the cocoa industry in 10 to 15 years’ time.
Tony’s Chocolonely is available in Selfridges, Whole Foods Market and Waitrose stores, followed by a launch in Sainsbury’s. You can also buy online from Ocado and the Tony’s Chocolonely website. RRP £3.99 ($5.20) for a 180g bar and £1.69 ($2.20) for a 47/50g bar.