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Best Practices voor een duurzame toekomst
02 februari 2008

Slavery-free Dutch chocolate wins Brands with a Conscience award

Van de Keuken of Tonys Chocolonely is extremely happy with the award. "As a small Dutch chocolate producer, we are absolutely dumbstruck when we look at the huge international organizations that have won this award. The international recognition is fantastic and we really need it. I hope that this award helps to really focus the spotlight on the abuses in the cocoa industry, both in Holland and abroad."

The Brands with a Conscience list is shaped around criteria including evidence of the human implications of the brand and considering the question of whether the brand takes risks in line with its beliefs. Evaluations are based on reputation, self-representation, history, direct experience, contacts with individuals within the organizations, media and analysts and an assessment of the expressed values of sustainability.

Previous winners include Virgin Group, Patagonia, Ikea, Toyota Prius, Product RED, Ecover and Slow Food Movement. The first winner, in 2004, was Max Havelaar. Other brands recognized in 2008 were Aveda, H&M, Happy Computers, International Watch Co, Pret a Manger and, posthumously, Dame Anita Roddick, the founder of The Body Shop.

Tonys Chocolonely has shown a flair for creative publicity from the outset. Teun van de Keukens first act of protest was personal. On 12 February 2004 he ate 17 chocolate bars and turned himself into police for knowingly buying a product made with slave labour, something is criminal under Dutch law. Article 416 of the Dutch Penal Code says that 'Whoever receives goods...while knowing at the time he receives them or when they are made available to him...that it concerns unlawfully obtained goods is guilty of wilfully receiving...unlawfully obtained goods and shall be punished by a term in prison of maximum four years or a Category Five fine.' Van de Keuken: "I just called the police to tell them I did a terrible thing. They said, 'Do not worry, we all eat chocolate, good-bye.'"

Then he hired a lawyer and asked a court in Amsterdam to convict him for eating chocolate, contending that by consuming chocolate "he was benefiting from child slavery on cocoa farms in Ivory Coast." He was hoping a jail sentence would raise consumer awareness, forcing the chocolate industry to stamp out child labour. This attempt to prosecute himself was dismissed, but Van de Keuken launched an appeal and meanwhile began producing his own chocolate. His chocolate bars, made from cocoa produced by a 45,000 member collective in Ghana, are called Tonys Chocolonely. The turnover of the manufacturer is more than 500,000 bars on an annual basis. The chocolate is being sold in a couple of Dutch supermarket chains.

Even Van de Keuken cannot guarantee 100% slavery-free chocolate. So he has changed the packaging of his chocolate and promises the bars are 'on the way to becoming 100% slavery-free'.

P+ webtip: Tony's Chocolonely
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