Tony's Chocolonely



The organisation for Slave-Free Chocolate no longer lists Tony’s Chocolonely as one of the good companies, but instead has dropped them from the list due to their association with the large chocolate company, Barry Callebaut, who admits to having child slavery in their supply chain.

Slave Free Chocolate is an organisation founded in 2007, with a goal to bring awareness through campaigns and education to end child slavery in West African farms.

Within the Slave Free Chocolate website, it lists chocolate companies that only use ethically grown cocoa.

Tony’s Chocolonely subsequently lost their ‘slave free’ status list after it was noted that their chocolate was processed by Barry Callebaut, the world’s largest cocoa processors and chocolate manufacturers who are still struggling with keeping child slavery out of their supply chain.

Barry Callebaut has, in fact, admitted its own cocoa supply chain is not free from child labour.

Barry Callebaut has ‘committed to eradicate child labour from its supply chain by 2025’, a spokesperson said.


The global cocoa processors and chocolate manufacturer is one of a number of the big chocolate companies that are having to face legal action over the alleged slave labour. Namely, Mars, Olam, Nestle, Modelez and Hershey’s alongside Barry Callebaut are due to appear in a US court, once again, to defend their allege actions with regards slave labour.

Barry Callebaut, alongside multi-national cocoa companies; Nestlé, Mars, Cargill, Olam, Hershey and Mondelez, which owns Cadbury has been named as defendants in a US lawsuit filed on behalf of eight former child slaves who claim they were forced to work unpaid on Ivory Coast cocoa plantations.

Under the details of the lawsuit, we know that there are 8 plaintiffs, all of whom are young adults now, and originating from Mali. They are suing the big companies in the US courts for compensation for the negligent treatment they received as children working in their supply chain.

Legal proceedings began on Friday 12, February 2021.


Is there illegal labour in our supply chain? 

The short answer is yes, but we have never said differently, and we are glad we know about it because then we can eradicate it. We actively look for instances so we can solve them.

The author of this particular list, who we have much respect for, does not currently feel that we fulfil all of the criteria to be included on it. 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. 

Ethical chocolate lists that do include us: 
Green America Mighty Earth

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.   
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.

Although Tony’s does not directly source its cocoa beans from Barry Callebaut, rival firms and ethical traders suggest processing enables the firm to sell their chocolate at a cheaper price.

Ayn Riggs,Slave Free Chocolate founder said:

Removing Tony’s from the list had been a difficult decision. Although Tony’s cocoa beans are said to be fully traceable, they’re still getting the price advantage of having a great big company make it for them versus themselves.

Paul Schoenmakers, Director of Impact at Tony’s said, the company was ‘disappointed’ to be dropped from Slave Free Chocolate’s list and hoped to return.


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