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Ben & Jerry’s addresses modern slavery in the supply chain with Tony’s Chocolonely partnership

The Unilever-owned ice cream brand is taking steps to raise awareness and end modern slavery and child labor in the chocolate industry.

Ben & Jerry’s addresses modern slavery in the supply chain with Tony’s Chocolonely partnership
[Source Images: Ben & Jerry’s]

While Ben & Jerry’s is still embroiled in a dispute with its parent company, Unilever, over not wanting to sell its wares in East Jerusalem and the West Bank, it hasn’t stopped the ice cream brand from pushing ahead as an advocate on other issues. The company just announced a new partnership with Tony’s Chocolonely to raise awareness and take steps to end modern slavery and child labor in the chocolate industry.

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Ben & Jerry’s is adopting Tony’s Open Chain sourcing principles designed to improve working conditions for farmers through paying more for cocoa beans in order to address poverty, and transitioning to fully traceable cocoa beans. The brand already has been paying its chocolate suppliers a Fair Trade premium, but this takes things a step further.

Slavery and child labor have long been problems in the cocoa trade. Last year, Nestlé, Cargill, Barry Callebaut, Mars, Olam, Hershey, and Mondelēz were named as defendants in a lawsuit filed by  International Rights Advocates, accusing the companies of forcing child laborers to work without pay on cocoa plantations in Côte d’Ivoire. (A federal judge recently dismissed the case, according to Reuters.) By adopting Tony’s Open Chain, Ben & Jerry’s will be buying its cocoa directly from eight co-operatives in Côte d’Ivoire, allowing it to know which farmers produce its cocoa, and the social and environmental circumstances of that production.

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And since it wouldn’t be 2022 without it, the new partnership also includes a few brand collab products. In January 2023, Ben & Jerry’s will drop Chocolatey Love A-Fair, a new flavor based on Tony’s milk caramel sea salt bar, and Tony’s will drop two new chocolate bars inspired by Ben & Jerry’s Strawberry Cheesecake and Chocolate Fudge Brownie flavors.

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About the author

Jeff Beer is a staff editor at Fast Company, covering advertising, marketing, and brand creativity.

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