Tony's, our thoughts.
Tony’s Chocolonely, update.
As promised on our Facebook Group The Norse Nook Natter we spoke to Tony’s to understand more surrounding the Times Article published on 13 Feb 2021. We spoke for about an hour all together and raised several points you poised to us and here are the answers we got back.
Tony’s are discussing the wording on their packaging and agree that it could be misleading. Personally I feel they should start at their slogan;
At Tony’s Chocolonely our mission is: together we’ll make chocolate 100% slave-free. Not just our chocolate, all chocolate worldwide
We think their mission is part of the confusion, and implies that they are slave free whilst actually not saying they are. They stand by the fact they unknowlingly have no Slavery in their supply pipeline, however, have found Child Labour. We argued they are one in the same. Their response was that one was forced, and the child is cut off from family and not paid, and the other is child labour. Illegal child labour has different levels of severity. Working long hours or working during school hours, as well as dangerous working conditions, such as using a machete, spraying chemical pesticides or lifting heavy loads are all forms of illegal child labour.
The below table shows which work activities children can perform at different ages, if a child is found performing one of the tasks they should not be this is classed as illegal child labour, and in Tony's mind not slavery.
They also posted the following statement on a Facebook page:
Our feelings are Tony's can't guarantee there are no Slaves in their supply chain as they can not monitor it all the time. However it seems they are striving to make it so. The more Cocoa farms Tony's can take on, paying the premium price, the better the farms and communities will become, therefore reducing child labour. Cocoa-Barometer Voice report linked below.
Tony’s cocoa is 100% traceable. They needed the infrastructure of Barry Callebaut in order to get their message across. Do you have plans to move away from Barry Callebaut (BC)?
Tony’s do not plan to move away from BC and will continue to work with them as a partner, they want to align themselves with big cocoa to show that it is possible to produce slave free chocolate. If they move out on there own it is too easy for large brand competitors to say that it is not scalable for their company. Tony’s said as the biggest cocoa brand (pre COVID) in Holland we are showing that it is possible. Tony’s say if they can make a 100% traceable supply chain then other big cocoa companies can too, in order to do this they need Mission Allies. Barry Callebaut are one of these allies as one of the top three Cocoa producers in the world, and are working towards child slave free cocoa by 2025. Additionally, other brands are following Tony’s supply chain choices, Aldi being the UKs biggest brand name.
A bit of history of 20 years of big cocoa - Promises like the ones Tony's and BC are making to reduce Child Labour have been made before in Africa. The credibility of the cocoa sector to make good on promises to tackle child labour has reached discouragingly low levels. Over the past two decades, many promises were made. None were met. The first such promise was to eliminate child labour by 2005. The last such promise, made in 2010, was to come to a reduction of 70% of the worst forms of child labour by 2020. Industry, producing governments, and international organisations have been trying to come to new joint ambitions to combat child labour for the last two years. However, this process has been slow and complex, with much internal division between various actors, the partnership still had not been publicly launched, raising questions about its viability or ability to deliver impact at scale.
Since 2018 Tony's have changed the industry through Tony's Open Chain Network this to us shows the real difference that can be made in the industry.
We asked what is going on with the whole BMI Bonus and Fat shaming?
Tony’s say it is important to read the stay-on-weight bonus in context with the whole paragraph, which you can over on their site. They have never weighed anyone and explained that chocolate can be unhealthy when you eat lots of it. This was their way of encouraging a healthy lifestyle, along with the Sports bonus and no-smoking bonus. Personally, we think the whole idea of weight related bonus, enforced or not should just be removed in this day and age. Overall though the number of bonuses and worker incentives that Tony’s offer they do seem like a good company to work for. Further reading on Social Media has brough the bonus page to Tony's attention, hopefully this will mean it is removed.
How do Tony’s ensure the money they pay extra gets to the farmer?
Tony’s helped us understand a few things here, first there is the Farm Gate Price, the price set by the government of the country for cocoa. Secondly there is the Fairtrade premium, this is added over and above the Farm Gate Price. Tony’s then add their premium on top. They said think of it as a glass, the Farm Gate Price half fills the glass, the Fairtrade takes it to three quarters full and Tony’s top it up to full. Or look at this graph!
This money is then given to the Cooperative, the Cooperatives that Tony’s deal with are made up of the farmers from the farms where the beans are sourced. This is how they trace the beans to source but also ensure that the money gets to the farmers directly and is not syphoned off through the Supply Chain. Giving the money to the Cooperative also means that money can be allocated to community projects that benefits all, not just the one farm if paid directly to farmer.
The below paragraph is a copy and paste from the email I recieved after our phone call:
In terms of how the premium is spent by the Co-Operatives – all farmers in the Co-Operative vote democratically at AGMs about how the premium is spent, unlike a lot of the big companies we are not prescriptive about how they spend their money, only that it is split fairly between the farmers in the Co Operatives.
We know that the money is split equally as it is independently audited by PWC assurance and Fairtrade Audit. We also have the Beantracker. This means the beans in the system are tracked throughout the year. We know exactly how much they deliver. When the beans arrive in SACO in Ivory Coast then Antwerp in Belgium, premium invoices are trigged automatically. There’s more on this in chapter 3 in our fair report. There’s much more detail on everything we are talking about in there as well (link here) Tony's Chocolonely.
What are we going to do moving forward?
We fully understand both sides of the argument, from Tony’s point of view they need to work with the largest brands in the industry to influence positive change, and gain Mission Allies. From the consumer view, the branding is misleading and the nit picking over terms for child labour is frustrating. They have agreed to look at these points and are already actively discussing changing the way in which they brand to ensure the messaging is accurate. We think the positive changes they are making in the industry is not something to just walk away from, because if Tony’s aren’t making the change and being the voice in the industry who else is going to be? There are of course other brands doing this, but are any as big and made as much head way as Tony’s?
Moving forward we will continue to stock Tonys, but are going to pay very close attention to their messaging and branding, if we don’t see a change in the coming months, we will be dropping them as a brand. What we are also doing is stocking more ethical chocolate brands, for those of you that do not want to eat Tony’s anymore. We are pleased to announce that we will now be stocking The Chocolate Tree, a Scottish based chocolate producer that are on the Slave Free Chocolate list that Tony’s have been removed from.
A message to consider - we don't need a small amount of people doing it perfectly we need a large amount of people doing it imperfectly.
Thank you - Sarah and Gary, The Norse Nook