How A Chocolate Brand Is Leading The Way

Discover the story behind the chocolate brand that is leading the way. Tony's Chocolonely was announced as the winner of Sustainable Brand Index in The Netherlands this year! We spoke to their Chief Evangelist, Ynzo van Zanten about sustainability.

This April 2018, Tony's Chocolonely has been announced as the winner of Sustainable Brand Index in The Netherlands. Tony’s Chocolonely is a Dutch chocolate brand that has been newly added to the study this year. With a strong focus on slave-free chocolate and fair trade principles, the Dutch consumer gave Tony's Chocolonely the highest score in environmental and social sustainability compared to all other brands. The chocolate brand is leading the overall ranking and the Food & Beverage industry it is part of. 

The story behind Tony's Chocolonely

Tony's Chocolonely's started in 2003 with the Dutch journalist, Teun van de Keuken, discovering that child slavery is alarmingly common in West Africa, - where 60% of the world's cocoa comes from. When discovering the shocking facts around slavery in the cacao industry, Teun rang every single chocolate maker in the world. Nobody would talk to him or could reassure him that their chocolate was slavery-free.

First, Teun wanted to turn himself in as a chocolate criminal to the Dutch authorities based on the fact that he contributed to slavery through his consumption of chocolate. After the authorities refused to prosecute him, Teun however continued on his mission. He worked to find the stories behind the slavery victims of the cacao industry and decided to produce his own chocolate (read more on Tony's Chocolonley story here),

Chocolate as a motor for change:

Now in 2018, Tony's Chocolonely has sold over 28 million chocolate bars worldwide and is setting an example for the entire industry on how to work towards 100% slave-free chocolate. The main reason Tony’s Chocolonely exists is to change the fact that child labor and modern slavery is happening on cocoa farms in West Africa. The brand is working towards a more evenly distributed supply chain and slave-free product. You can discover all the facts behind Tony's Chocolonely's impact here

Talking with Ynzo van Zanten, Chief Evangelist at Tony's Chocolonely

We spoke to Tony's Chocolonely's Chief Evangelist, Ynzo van Zanten, about Tony's Chocolonely's sustainability efforts and position in Sustainable Brand Index this year:

Congratulations! How important has winning Sustainable Brand Index in the Netherlands been for Tony's Chocolonely?

We want to lead by example and this award is a recognition for the effort. More importantly, it helps to inspire others to joins us and change the chocolate industry. It’s also a recognition for the more social side of sustainability.

As Tony's Chocolonely Chief Evangelist, how do you work with sustainability within the company?

We don’t have a specific CSR Manager within Tony’s Chocolonely. For us sustainability is in all aspects of our brand. In other words, it is engrained in the DNA of our company. Everyone in our team carries the responsibility to do things differently, and hopefully better.

Which demands around sustainability do you see in the market today and onwards?

Sustainability has become a critical business success factor. The challenges require continuous improvement and high ambitions. Let’s raise the bar!

Which sustainability issues will be the main focus for Tony's Chocolonely in the near future?

Our mission will remain our main focus: 100% slave free as the norm in the chocolate industry.

Lastly, what do you plan on doing in order to keep your leading position in Sustainable Brand Index next year?

Raise the bar! We always work hard to improve what we do. Furthermore, we are planning to expand even more internationally and grow the movement for 100% slave-free chocolate.  

Watch: Ynzo van Zanten - Raising the Bar, a world without slavery in any chocolate | TEDxYouth

Watch: Tony's Chocolonely - the story behind an unusual chocolate bar


Sustainable Brand Index is the Nordics’ largest brand study on sustainability, researching around a 1 000 brands, among more than 40 000 consumers in 5 different countries each year. Brands are assessed both on the environmental and the social responsibility they take, based on a combination of qualitative and quantitative analyses. The result of this the study is a deep insight into consumers perceptions around brands and sustainability. It shows where brands are leading, where there are lacking and where they are missing opportunities to communicate about sustainability and act accordingly.

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