Business and Society

Tony's Chocolonely's Supply Chain: Profit and Purpose

By Frans Pannekoek | September 25, 2023 | 1 min read
Supply chains in commodity industries are often characterized by social and environmental abuse. In the cocoa industry, for example, the average farmer cultivates between three and five hectares to earn less than two dollars a day. It is an environment rife with social and environmental abuse. Supply Chain professionals struggle to find an adequate answer to balance short term business (financial) goals with delivering social- and sustainability improvements. The article coins a new perspective: Resonating Supply Chains. It’s a basic model to overcome different forms of alienation that pose risks to delivering both business and impact goals. 

Responsibility for social impact

In a recently published article on Harvard Business Review, Frans Pannekoek and co-authors Thomas Breugem, and Luk N. Van Wassenhove look at the experience of Tony’s Chocolonely, a Dutch chocolate brand founded in 2005, which set itself a mission to sell 100% slavery-free chocolate. They show how Tony’s brought its supply chain partners together to create an altogether new paradigm in which all actors take responsibility for social impact. And it really works: Tony’s profitably sells around $130 million worth of slavery-free chocolate bars in Western Europe and the U.S.

Alternative ecosystem

This Tony’s Chocolonely case shows that even a relatively small brand operating in a commodity industry that produces negative social and environmental effects can successfully build an alternative ecosystem that lifts people out of poverty and the social injustices that accompany it. Tony’s experience also shows that the resonant supply chain paradigm offers a basic framework for engaging with these issues. 

Leading change: implementation of impact-led supply chains

This case can help managers transition their company and implement an impact-led supply chain that aligns business results with impact results. And, as other authors have demonstrated, the experience of the cocoa business is mirrored in many other industries as well.
Read the full article on Harvard Business Review here.

About Frans Pannekoek

Frans PannekoekFrans Pannekoek is an Adjunct Professor at TIAS School for Business and Society and Head of Soaperations at Seepje. His curriculum is grounded in Operations and Supply Chain Management: Impact-led Supply Chains and how to make them work. But includes wider experiences and knowledge-topics such as leadership of scale-up companies, team- and culture building, change management, digital transformation, sustainability and social entrepreneurship, debating, dialogue and poetry. 

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