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February 27, 2020

Ethical chocolate firm Tony’s Chocolonely attracts investment

Tony's Chocolonely, a Dutch fair trade confectionery firm, has secured investment from two venture capital funds.

By Dean Best

Tony’s Chocolonely, the Dutch fair trade confectionery firm, has secured investment from two venture capital funds to support its business championing slave-free chocolate.

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Amsterdam-based Tony’s Chocolonely was founded in 2005 by three Dutch journalists amid concerns cocoa was being sourced from plantations that used child labour and slavery. They set out to buy cocoa from farmers in Ghana and the Ivory Coast, paying a higher price and working to eradicate bad practice.

Since, the firm has won retail listings in markets including the Netherlands, the UK and the US.

Belgium-based private-equity firm Verlinvest and JamJar Investments, a fund set up by the founders of UK smoothie maker Innocent Drinks, are putting an undisclosed sum into Tony’s Chocolonely.

In a statement, the chocolate maker and its new investors said the funds would be used to expand the brand internationally and develop Tony’s Chocolonely Chocolate Circus, a chocolate factory and visitor’s centre that seeks to educate consumers about the “inequality” in some areas of global chocolate production.

Ben Black, a principal at Verlinvest, which has offices in Brussels, New York and Singapore, and Adam Balon, from London-based JamJar, will join the supervisory board of Tony’s Chocolonely. 

Tony’s Chocolonely chief executive Henk Jan Beltman will retain 51% of the voting rights in the company. Maurice Dekkers – one of the three founding journalists in Tony’s Chocolonely – and Eveline Raymans – the firm’s former managing director – will keep their shareholdings too, although the size of which was not disclosed.

Beltman said: “With the investment of Verlinvest and JamJar, we can accelerate in achieving our goal of making all chocolate worldwide 100% slave-free. To accomplish this, it is important that we can continue to grow internationally so that more and more people – farmers, consumers, retailers, big chocolate companies and governments alike – can be involved in our mission.”

Verlinvest’s Black added: “We see huge potential to accelerate in bringing the brand to an international audience and driving change on a global scale.”

Previous food companies backed by Verlinvest include US snacks business Popchips and condiments brand Sir Kensington’s, which is now owned by Unilever.

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VC funding trends to watch out for in Consumer

Consumer industry investors across the world are betting big on the ESG trend to pick up in the future and are focusing on backing the start-ups and emerging companies working in the meat-alternative products category.   The top two deals in this category were the $500 million investment raised by Impossible Foods and the $347 million investment deal for Future Meat Technologies.  GlobalData’s Venture Capital Investments – Consumer 2021 will help you dive into the capital raising landscape across regions and themes.  Use the report to identify emerging signals and trends across Consumer, formulating winning strategies for the road ahead.   
by GlobalData
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