Tony’s Chocolonely ‘look-alike’ bars leave bitter taste with big chocolate firms

By Anthony Myers

- Last updated on GMT

Tony Chocolonely's  limited edition ‘look-alike’ chocolate bars. Pic: Tony Chocolonely
Tony Chocolonely's limited edition ‘look-alike’ chocolate bars. Pic: Tony Chocolonely

Related tags Sustainability Tony's Chocolonely

Tony’s Chocolonely has alleged that some of the industry’s big chocolate makers have put pressure on UK supermarkets to remove the Dutch company’s ‘Sweet Solution’ bars because “they didn’t want to be associated with the claims of illegal labour in the chocolate industry”.

The four limited edition ‘look-alike’ chocolate bars are designed to raise awareness that 20 years after the chocolate industry promised to eradicate illegal child labour, it is still widely prevalent.

It also follows the release of the US Government sponsored NORC Report from 2020 ​that called out the cocoa industry’s failure to address numerous human rights violations in Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire.

The bars, which have a link to a petition on the inside of the wrapper, will be available on and other retailers globally. They were planned to be available from UK supermarkets but were pulled after one day in stores on 21 January.

With brands such as KitKat and Toblerone clearly identifiable, Paul Schoenmakers, Head of Impact at Tony’s Chocolonely, denied it was pointing the finger at particular companies. “We’re calling on the whole chocolate industry, all brands, to take responsibility and to collaborate to make 100% slave free the norm in chocolate. We are all part of the problem and we can all be part of the sweet solution​,” he said.

Iconic chocolate brands 

The bars are inspired by the world’s most iconic chocolate brands that together represent the face of a big chocolate industry. However, they’re in fact very different: from their boldly branded wrappers to their chunky tablet format - these nougat pyramids, wafer strips, nutty crunch circles and caramel biscuit strips are unmistakably Tony’s Chocolonely.

A spokesperson for Nestlé, makers of KitKat, told ConfectioneryNews: “This is an eye-catching stunt from Tony’s but behind the marketing lies a very serious reality. Child labour exists within the cocoa industry and, at Nestlé, we have been working for many years to help tackle it. We became the first confectionery company to introduce a comprehensive Child Labour Monitoring and Remediation system which has had a significant impact since 2012 and, today, Nestlé is investing more than ever to help improve the lives of cocoa farmers through the Nestlé Cocoa Plan. We are working with Tony’s Chocolonely on this shared agenda and we will stand with anyone who seeks to eliminate child labour from cocoa​.”

Schoenmakers said over 1.56 million children and at least 30,000 victims of modern slavery are forced to work on cocoa plantations. “All of us - from Choco fans to choco makers, governments to grocery stores - are part of the problem. But we can all work together to be part of the sweet solution​.”

Tony’s Chocolonely is on a high-profile mission to make 100% slave free the norm in chocolate, changing the industry from within by raising awareness of the issue, leading by example and inspiring key industry stakeholders to act.

It said its Sweet Solution bars do all three in one go by demonstrating how fair chocolate - regardless of shape or flavour - can be made and enjoyed guiltlessly.

It also said the bars are made following Tony's 5 Sourcing Principles: using 100% traceable cocoa beans, paying a higher price; strengthening farmer cooperatives; engaging in long-term direct trading partnerships; and focusing on cocoa quality and productivity to optimise cocoa yields.

All profits from the bars will be donated to 100WEEKS, an independent platform that uses direct cash transfers and financial training to assist women in escaping the cycle of extreme poverty.

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