Zaandam, a small city on the outskirts of Amsterdam, is set to get a Willy Wonka-style factory—vegan chocolate included.
Netherlands-based brand Tony’s Chocolonely is the mastermind behind the new candy factory. The chocolate company released blueprints for the factory rendered by Dutch architects SeARCH, which include a full-size roller coaster.
The company sells a number of flavored chocolate bars, including vegan dark chocolate options. Tony’s Chocolonely, which advocates for slave-free chocolate, first announced its plans to build the factory in 2018.
“At home, we bought warehouse De Vrede in Zaanstad to build Tony’s Chocolonely Chocolate Circus. It’ll be an Open Chain chocolate factory: we’ll explain the injustices in the cocoa industry, what we’re doing about them and how chocolate is made,” the company’s CEO, Henk Jan Beltman, revealed in its 2018 to 2019 annual report.
And you won’t need a winning golden ticket to gain admittance to the new factory. The CEO added: “Everyone’s invited.”
The new factory will include an educational experience where guests can learn everything there is to know about chocolate. The company will also teach people about the issue of child labor and slavery in the cocoa industry.
Farmers primarily grow cacao beans, which produce chocolate, in the tropical regions of Western Africa, Asia, and Latin America. Approximately 70 percent of the world’s cocoa comes from Western African countries like Ghana and the Ivory Coast.
In order to produce cheap cocoa, farms in these areas routinely use child and slave labor.
Jan Beltman said the company’s mission is to make sure all chocolate sold around the world 100 percent slave-free.
“It is the result of dissatisfaction and frustration with the social inequality in the chocolate industry. Things can and must change. Together we’ll make 100 percent slave-free the norm in chocolate,” he said.
He continued: “And, to achieve that, we have a strategy: our roadmap. This roadmap consists of three pillars: Tony’s raises awareness, Tony’s leads by example and Tony’s inspires to act. Through our Open Chain platform, we give businesses the opportunity to take on our approach and change the chocolate industry together.”
In order to help ensure its chocolate is slave-free, the company says it pays its farmers a living wage. It also uses “bean tracker” technology so that its supply chains are traceable.
The company aims to open the chocolate factory open 2024. Tony’s Chocolonely estimates it will get around 500,000 visitors will visit each year.