Tony’s Chocolonely sourcing model cuts child labour tenfold

10 January 2023

Chocolate maker Tony's Chocolonely has reduced the amount of child labour in its supply chain over the last 10 years from around 50% to less than 5%.

It revealed in its 10th annual FAIR report that in its longer-term farmer co-operative partnerships, 4.4% of children were engaged in child labour. In its more recently established co-op partnerships, this number was 52.8%, demonstrating the industry average.

Tony’s said this was thanks to its Child Labor Monitoring and Remediation System, which has been in effect since 2017. This process involved selecting a co-op, finding a community facilitator to visit households and identify cases, and then finding a solution that suited each co-operative’s community.

Additionally, Tony’s said it paid the cocoa farmers in its supply chain a higher price than was set by the national governments in its sourcing regions to ensure suppliers earned a living wage. 

To help other companies ensure ethical cocoa sourcing, Tony’s published its five ethical sourcing principles, which it said had already been adopted by businesses including Ben and Jerry’s and Aldi.

These principles included:

1. Traceable cocoa beans

Buyers should purchase directly from cocoa farmers and co-ops on an equal footing. Purchasing teams should ensure they know who produced the cocoa beans, where, and under what social and environmental conditions.

2. Higher prices

Cocoa farmers must be paid enough to earn a living income and run healthy farms, Tony’s said. This was not possible under current cocoa prices, so buyers should pay an additional premium to match the Living Income Reference price until the price of cocoa in sourcing regions becomes high enough.

3. Upskilled farmers

Companies needed to work with their cocoa suppliers to professionalise them, making their work safer and more sustainable. This would empower farmers to change structural inequality in their value chains.

4. Improved quality and productivity

Together with partner co-ops, firms could invest in agricultural skills not only for cocoa but other crops as well. Farmers would then be able to generate more income from their existing operations.

5. Look to the long term

Long-term commitments, of at least five years, to buy beans at a higher price would give farmers income security, enabling them to make better choices about future investments and recouping costs.

Tony’s Chocolonely added it was inviting companies to join its Open Chain initiative, which currently only reached 0.5% of the West African Cocoa market, where it purchases its cocoa beans. The initiative aims to improve traceability of all cocoa beans, building a network of cocoa farmers with GPS mapping, which would also help to prevent deforestation.

In February last year, the company found it had 1,700 cases of child labour in its supply chain.

Tony’s earnings before tax for the 2021-22 full year were €3.567m, up from a loss of €1.095m in 2020-21.

Pascal Baltussen, chief of impact and operations at Tony’s Chocolonely, will be speaking at CIPS Procurement Futures, taking place on 1-2 February at the Queen Elizabeth II Centre in London.

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