The Chocolate Connection

Dutch brand Tony’s Chocolonely is on an international mission

June 11th, 2019
Anastasia Petrova, News from Berlin
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One of the Netherlands’ best loved chocolate brands, Tony’s Chocolonely, ‘wants to make the world a little bit sweeter’. For Chief Chocolate Officer Henk Jan Beltman it’s time to make that mission international. That’s what Tony’s is doing with the Orange Trade Mission Fund and the Dutch Good Growth Fund, both initiatives of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The funds help Dutch businesses achieve their international ambitions.

In the magazine of the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Beltman explains the plans for the brand. “If you want to change the inequalities in the chocolate industry, you have to take responsibility at the start of the production chain. We’re working towards 100% slavery-free chocolate and hope to inspire others. We’re doing this by raising awareness and setting a good example. By developing a profitable business model in West Africa, we hope to inspire other chocolate producers to trade fairly. We want to convince the chocolate industry’s main players that things can be done differently. We looked at whether we could make a go of it in the US. And the answer was yes, but we could do with a bit of help. That’s why we applied to the Orange Trade Mission Fund”, says Beltman.
“I’m pleasantly surprised at what the ministry and the Dutch embassies and consulates in the US can do for us. The business part has to come from us, and that makes sense. But the ministry’s network and knowledge are more extensive than I thought. This means we can engage with major US stakeholders – like a supermarket offering fair trade products – in a completely different way than if we’d gone it alone.”

Tony’s Chocolonely’s main philosophy is that the production is slavery-free. Right now, more than one million people are cocoa slaves. Journalist Teun (Tony) van de Keuken was determined to do something to change this. In November 2005 Tony brought the first (lonely!) slavery-free chocolate bar onto the market. Tony’s Chocolonely was born. Under Henk Jan Beltman’s leadership, the brand now wants to take its chocolate – and its mission – to the US, where the world of chocolate is dominated by big players like Mars, Hershey’s and Nestlé.

“On top of support we receive through the Orange Trade Mission Fund, we’re also receiving financial support through the Dutch Good Growth Fund. The fund exists specifically to help SMEs that are looking to invest in or export to emerging markets and developing countries. We buy our cocoa beans directly from cocoa farmers in Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire and form long-lasting ties with them. And we pay the farmers a premium on top of the fair trade price”, adds Beltman.

The Netherlands is – and always has been – an enterprising country. Lots of Dutch businesses and organisations are active in many different countries and make money there. Much of the Netherlands’ prosperity is the result of Dutch businesses’ international success.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs supports Dutch entrepreneurship by bringing businesses, organisations and government bodies into contact with one another. And by preparing agreements with governments and international organisations and finding strategic niches for Dutch businesses, knowledge institutions and industries. Diplomats know the laws, rules, people and culture of a country. The ministry uses this knowledge to help the Dutch private sector.


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