By Justin Eichenberger, Semester at Sea, Spring 2017
When Dutch investigative Reporter Teun “Tony” van de Keuken first embarked on his investigation of the cocoa industry 11 years ago, he had no idea he was about to walk into one of the largest modern slave markets in the world. Worse yet, he discovered that it was most commonly young children who were enslaved in this process. Disgusted, Teun sprang into action: he ate a few chocolate bars from the world’s major producers, and then turned himself into the police, as, by the same principle surrounding receipt of stolen goods, he was complicit in slavery.
Despite his best efforts, the public prosecutor refused to prosecute him. However, while awaiting that decision, Teun went ahead and made 5,000 Fairtrade chocolate bars for distribution. Thus, Tony’s Chocolonely was born. Committed to “100% slave-free chocolate”, Tony’s has been pushing since 2005 to reach achieve absolute equality in the industry. Now partnered with multiple farm co-ops in Ghana, Tony’s is providing fair wages (25% above the industry standard) to more than 1,800 Ghanaian farmers.
One of the co-ops, ABOCFA, is an especially rare case. Of all of the cocoa production in Ghana, only 3% is Fairtrade certified, and only 1% is organic. ABOCFA falls within the very small intersection of these two statistics, which is why they stood out to Tony’s, and have emerged as one of their leading providers. Tony’s fight is far from over, but if they keep changing the expectation of what is “normal” in the chocolate industry and continue to educate the public about the atrocities in the current market, perhaps we really can achieve 100% slave-free chocolate.