We eat around 660,900 tonnes of chocolate every year in the UK – that’s about 11kg each. And in January, Dutch chocolate brand Tony’s Chocolonely was added to the mix. Starting out exclusively in Selfridges, it’s now also available at Whole Foods, Ocado, Oxfam and Waitrose, and will also be stocked in Sainsbury’s later this month.
But what makes it different? Tony’s is all about raising awareness of child labour and modern slavery in the cocoa industry, and they’re really shouting about it. Even the chocolate bars themselves are divided unevenly, instead of in the usual neat rows, to reflect the inequity of the cocoa supply chain.
Fairtrade is under threat, as more companies drop it in order to meet consumer demands. From an average £3.50 bar of chocolate, cocoa farmers are paid just 6 cents. 2.1 million children are working illegally because their parents aren’t being paid enough, and they’re being given machetes, dangerous chemicals and extremely heavy loads to carry for their work. In extreme cases, they’re even trafficked to other countries. Conditions are particularly poor in Ghana and the Ivory Coast, so this is where Tony’s works. They trade directly with the farmer cooperatives, and charge more for their chocolate in order to pay farmers a living wage. You can read more about Tony’s impact and how they operate here.
This isn’t an ad, and I wasn’t paid for writing it – I was just lucky enough to work close enough to go along to the Tony’s pop-up event in London last week. With the increasing awareness of the importance of ethical and environmentally sustainable products in recent years, everyone wants to say they’re doing their bit – but so much of it is murky and opaque. Companies are jumping on the bandwagon: like when everyone wanted manuka honey, and the amount being sold around the world was almost six times the amount that was actually being made. But Tony’s is actually doing something, and it’s great. Because I like eating chocolate and not feeling bad about it.
And on a less serious (but important) note – the chocolate is delicious. We got to sample a variety of them at the pop–up, and I’m in love with their Dark Chocolate Almond Sea Salt. My non–vegan friends were particularly taken by the Milk Chocolate Caramel Sea Salt, too. And although the uneven pieces have a serious message, they also give a whole new meaning to ‘I’ll just have one more square’…