Tony’s Chocolonely – the chocolate brand who wants to own a reputation for fighting injustice in the chocolate industry – reported that they found 1,701 child workers in their production line.
The Dutch chocolate makers recently defended their partnership with Barry Callebaut, which was viewed as an abandonment of their values, after the latter was discovered to have 21,258 instances of child labour in their supply chain, according to The Times, a British newspaper.
According to the company’s latest “Fair Report”, 1,701 child workers have been identified in the company’s supply chain, marking an increase in child labour over the previous year.
Despite these findings however, the company’s response might not be what you expect. Addressing the report, Tony’s wrote.
Before your alarm bells go off, know this: finding cases of child labour in the supply chain, means change is happening. We want to find the children performing illegal labour. Only then can we work with the families to address the problem.
You might be surprised to learn that a company that brands itself as the ethical chocolate maker, uses child labour at all, let alone that its numbers are increasing, but we believe for Tony’s, that’s the point. They never claimed to have a supply chain, free of unethical practice; instead, their goal is to identify it, learn the root causes, and then apply that learning to try to fix it.
we are glad to know about it because then we can eradicate it. We actively look for instances so we can solve them. We have a Child Labour Monitoring and Remediation System (CLMRS) in place across all 7 cocoa cooperatives that we source from.Tony’s comments on their annual report findings
The rise in underaged workers used to make Tony’s bars can be attributed to two new cooperatives, with a combined child labour prevalence score of 50.5%. For comparison, their five existing partners garnered a prevalence rate of 3.9%. With over 1700 cases already identified, we are interested to see the steps Tony’s will take to apply remediation. In the previous year, 221 of 387 cases were reportedly resolved.
According to the Global Slavery Index, Tony’s sources its cocoa beans from Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana, where it’s reported that around 30,000 victims of modern slavery work in the cocoa industry. Tony’s says about their own supply chain, however. “while we’ve never found any cases of modern slavery in our supply chain, we do find cases of child labour.”
There is debate in the community over how ethical Tony’s is. The Slave Free Chocolate list removed Tony’s last year, and the founder of SFC, Ayn Riggs, commented that Tony’s “pitched virtue to consumers” despite being “completely dependent on its relationship with Barry Callebaut to make and sell chocolate which is in fact tainted by child labourers.” See what Tony’s has to say about the partnership in our article here.
Tony’s says they are attempting to resolve the issue of injustice in the cocoa industry from the inside. They state, “our ambition extends beyond our own bar: we want to change the whole industry which involves being where the problems are so that we can solve them.”