You can once again buy colourful bars of Hey Tiger chocolate after the brand was relaunched following an agreement reached between its original owner, Cyan Ta’eed, and Australian food and beverage company Soulfresh.

Five original Hey Tiger flavours are being rolled out to stores across Australia this month, including Best Mates (caramelised popcorn and coconut milk chocolate) and Game Changer (hazelnut butter dark chocolate), and, in recognition of its new home, a newbie called Soul Tiger (cocoa cookie crumb and orange dark milk chocolate).

The Australian social enterprise and fair trade chocolate maker – which attempted to disrupt the cocoa industry and ensure workers were being treated well – closed in May 2021 after three years of operation. The Hey Tiger founder announced its closure on Instagram, saying the company was sadly not viable in the long term.

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“The vision of Hey Tiger was always an ambitious one. We wanted to create a chocolate company that would surprise and delight everyone who tried it, while helping make positive change in the broken cocoa industry. But like any start-up, there comes a time when you need to take a hard look at the company's long-term viability. Although we designed a business that customers absolutely love, it proved hard to scale into the profitability it needed to be a sustainable social enterprise,” she said.

Ta’eed will no longer be involved in the brand, but said in a statement that selling Hey Tiger to Soulfresh was an easy decision because it has a similar ethical commitment. Its brands include Lo Bros, Nutty Bruce and Wildly Good.

By 2021, Hey Tiger had donated $400,000 to The Hunger Project, which has a plan to end world hunger by 2030. Two per cent of sales will continue to be donated to the charity, with the project directing the money towards women’s empowerment and entrepreneurship and social development ventures.

Soulfresh says that even though chocolate gives such joy to people, the cacao industry sees thousands of West African women and children forced into labour; the average worker earns around 73 cents per day, which is drastically under the poverty line. In 2019, the Washington Post published a scathing and deeply upsetting expose into “big chocolate”.

“These [West African] farms form the world’s most important source of cocoa and are the setting for an epidemic of child labour that the world’s largest chocolate companies promised to eradicate nearly 20 years ago,” it wrote. “... The world’s chocolate companies have missed deadlines to uproot child labour from their cocoa supply chains in 2005, 2008 and 2010. Next year, they face another target date and, industry officials indicate, they probably will miss that, too.”

Soulfresh’s founder and CEO, Didi Lo, said in a statement, “Soulfresh we will continue to only use ethically sourced cocoa and protect the Hey Tiger magic. There’s something special that has been created here and we remain devoted to its legacy.”

heytiger.com.au