A blog in The Grocer says the much-loved ethical chocolate brand – whose raison d’être is the eradication of slavery from the chocolate supply chain – became the subject of immense scrutiny this weekend when it was revealed it had been dropped from Slave Free Chocolate’s list of ethical chocolate companies.
It was dropped from the list because beans used in its bars are processed on contract by Swiss chocolatier Barry Callebaut, which has just been named as a defendant in a US court case brought against the cocoa industry by International Rights Advocates on behalf of eight former child workers on plantations in Ivory Coast.
On the surface, this absolutely could not have come at a worse time for Tony’s. Just last month, it made the headlines by accusing its ‘big chocolate’ rivals of pressuring Sainsbury’s to drop its ‘Sweet Solution’ chocs – a limited edition range of tongue-in-cheek Ferrero, Twix and Kit Kat imitations designed to ”raise awareness of the issues in the chocolate industry”.
Tony’s has made few friends among big rival big chocolatiers, not just with its vocal criticism of their supply chain standards, but also its growing sales and steadily increasing popularity.
According to Tony’s head of impact Paul Schoenmakers, Tony’s contracts out a separate arm of Barry Callebaut’s factory that has been specifically set up to accommodate full supply chain traceability since 2015.
Barry Callebaut processes Tony’s cocoa beans (which it sources itself ) into cocoa mass and cocoa butter and turn that into the liquid chocolate couverture. That is sent to its moulding partners who produce its finished bars.
Schoenmakers says the brand completely stands by its relationship with Barry Callebaut and is “triggering them to change”.
Indeed, Barry Callebaut is already working to eradicate child labor from its supply chain by 2025 and says it “strongly” condemns ”forced labor, slavery and all practices that exploit both adults and children or expose them to harmful or hazardous conditions.”