Ben Black, principle, Verlinvest and Adam Balon, founder, JamJar will join the supervisory board of Tony’s Chocolonely after approval of the investment by ACM.
51% of the voting power remains in the hands of Henk Jan Beltman, chief chocolate officer, Tony’s Chocolonely.
The current shareholders Maurice Dekkers (founder) and Eveline Raymans (former MD, Tony’s Chocolonely) will retain their shares. 15% of the company will remain in the possession of Team Tony’s.
In addition to growing the brand internationally, Verlinvest and JamJar will support development of Tony’s Chocolonely Chocolate Circus factory in Zaandam, The Netherlands, which will double as a visitor’s center.
Tony’s Chocolonely expects to host 500,000 chocolate fans annually who will learn more about the issues of inequality the chocolate industry.
“With the investment of Verlinvest and JamJar, we shall accelerate in achieving our goal of making all chocolate worldwide 100% slave-free,” said Beltman.
“It is important we continue to grow internationally so that more people, farmers, consumers, retailers, big chocolate companies and governments alike can be involved in our mission.”
Verlinvest, the investment vehicle of the Belgian family shareholder of AB-InBev, has a track record of investing in sustainable consumer brands with an interest in, amongst others, Oatly and Vita Coco.
JamJar is the private equity fund of the founders of innocent drinks.
Black said it was delighted to be backing a category-defining innovator and leader in ethical business practices.
“Tony’s Chocolonely is a fun and engaging brand, offering a serious and practical solution to an unfair and unequal supply-chain. We see huge potential to accelerate in bringing the brand to an international audience and driving change on a global scale,” he added.
Balon added, over the course of only a few years, Beltman has created a fantastic brand and has set a new standard for the chocolate industry.
“I look forward to helping him and the entire team at Tony’s Chocolonely create a truly global impact brand,” he said.
Tony’s Chocolonely was founded in 2005 by three journalists from the Dutch TV show ‘Keuringsdienst van Waarde’ after they discovered the world’s largest chocolate manufacturers were buying cocoa from plantations that used illegal child labor and modern slavery. Since then the firm has dedicated its efforts to raising awareness about inequality in the chocolate industry.
They lead by example by building direct long-term relationships with cocoa farmers in Ghana and Ivory Coast, paying them a higher price and working together to solve the underlying causes of modern slavery.
They want to inspire the industry as a whole to make 100% slave free the norm in chocolate. Tony’s Chocolonely has grown to become the largest chocolate brand in the Netherlands and is expanding worldwide, with offices in the Netherlands, USA, the UK and DACH (Germany (D), Austria (A), and Switzerland (CH)).