Tony Chocolonely - slave-free chocolate
Slave-free chocolate, something different from Fair Trade chocolate and a very interesting story which had been going on here in the Netherlands. Teun van der Keuken (Tony) runs a consumer programme here and a few years ago he came across information which suggested that child slaves were being used on cacao plantations in West Africa, most importnatly in Ivory Coast, where a large proportion of the world's cacao production is located. These slaves are mostly boys/young men from the neighbouring countries of Togo, Benin and Mali from where they are sold into slavery, sent to the plantations and are treated verty very badly for little food and no money. This pracrice has apparently been confirmed by UNICEF and various independent research projects.
Tony decided that he would try to create a brand of slavery-free chocolate, avoiding, in the main any cocoa beans coming from Ivory Coast and tried to launch this at the premiere of Charlie and Chocolate Factory in London in 2005, but was prevented from doing so, leading to the commercial introduction of the Tony Chocolonely chocolate bar.
Taking the campaign further, he reported himself to the police for having knowingly consumed a product which was made illegally (i.e. by child slaves). The Dutch authorities refused to prosecute, saying they had other things to do with their time. In the meantime, he managed to upset quite a few of the large chocolate makers in Europe, with one (Nestle) saying that there is no such thing as slave-free chocolate. He was also very disappointed to note that so-called Fair Trade chocolate being made and sold by Max Havelaar in Holland also included cocao shipments from Ivory Coast which could NOT be guaranteed to be slave-free.
Anyway, during the trial, he was able to produce an ex-slave, one who was fortunate enough to have been able to run away who told the story of how he was sent from Ghana to Ivory Coast as a young man of 15, sent to work in the cocao plantations and was treated very badly. However the outcome of the process was that the Dutch state would allow him to call his own chocolate slave-free but he would not be prosecuted for knowingly buying a product which had been produced illegally. A pity, as it would have represented a major challenge to the large cocoa traders and chocolate makers if they were forced to protect their consumers by avoiding cocao harvested by slaves.
However, whatever else, it was a very brave attempt and a very effective way of publicising this problem.