Althaea-De Laet Int. has more than one string to its bow: the Belgian business makes and sells Fairtrade-certified bars, tablets, easter eggs and bonbons under its own Althaea brand, and produces private label chocolate products for customers.
Tony’s Chocolonely has been one of its clients since the challenger brand first launched in 2005. And now, Tony’s is taking control of the business in an M&A move that gives the rapidly-growing company its own factory.
Faster innovation, increased flexibility
While Tony’s has country offices outside of the Netherlands, including the UK, Germany, Austria, and the US, the Althaea-De Laet manufacturing site will be Tony’s first.
The factory is based in Borsbeek, Belgium, and currently has 18 employees. Tony’s has confirmed all staff members, made up of the De Laet family and its management team, will stay on at the business for the next two years.
Tony’s has plans to build a factory to the north of Amsterdam in Zaandam, which is expected to open within the next three to four years. In the meantime, Tony’s told FoodNavigator the Belgian facility is not acting as a stop-gap. Rather, it is a ‘strategic milestone’.
“We think operating our own factory to mould chocolate bars is a strategic milestone to achieve our mission: making 100% slave-free the norm in chocolate,” a spokesperson told FoodNavigator. “Not just our chocolate, but all chocolate worldwide.”
The spokesperson continued: “Being the owner of Althaea-De Laet Int. will help us to scale up our business and innovate faster and with more flexibility on production level.”
Tony’s to respect private label obligations
The factory is, and will continue to be, used to mould its 180g chocolate bars, smaller bars, and other products such as its Easter Eggs. “Nothing will change for Tony’s own chocolate,” stressed the spokesperson, adding that it will continue to work with its current suppliers.
Concerning Althaea-De Laet’s private label arm of the business, Tony’s said it will respect existing arrangements.
“Althaea-De Laet Int. Is a fully operational factory that has always produced chocolate for multiple partners, not exclusively for Tony’s, and of course we’ll respect the existing business relationships and contractual obligations,” we were told.
“We will meet with each of the other customers and investigate possibilities and needs. Surely, we will also start having conversations with the other chocolate makers to see how they can join Tony’s Open Chain to make 100% slave-free chocolate the norm.”
‘Most importantly’, the spokesperson reiterated, ‘nothing will change’ for Tony’s own chocolate bars. “We already have a segregated supply chain in place, including our own Tony’s chocolate recipes in separate tanks. And we’ll keep it that way to ensure that our beans are 100% traceable!”