MOUNT OLIVE, N.J. — Mars Chocolate and Fairtrade International have announced an agreement to introduce Fairtrade-labeled Mars products and to work together to help farmers increase productivity and sustainability.

“This agreement is a big step toward fulfilling our shared mission to empower farmers to build vibrant, sustainable livelihoods, and we’re very excited to work with Fairtrade on ways to enable commodity certification to scale across the entire industry,” said Barry Parkin, vice-president of Mars Global Chocolate. “This commitment is our recognition of Fairtrade’s history of dedication to smallholder farmers and their efforts to enable farmer productivity and income improvements.”

The first Mars product to have the Fairtrade mark will be Maltesers, which will be available in 2012 in the United Kingdom and Ireland. The product will contribute more than $1 million annually to funds for cocoa farmers to invest in their farms, businesses and communities. Mars also will look into how to scale up its purchase of Fairtrade cocoa and support Fairtrade’s efforts to develop measures to allow more confectionery companies to increase their commitments to purchase more Fairtrade cocoa. Fairtrade and Mars said they will work to explore how to improve productivity, quality, labor and community development benefits to farmers.

“We’re excited about this agreement’s potential to transform the lives of thousands of small-scale cocoa farmers,” said Rob Cameron, chief executive officer of Fairtrade International. “Through Fairtrade certification, we’ve seen how farmers’ organizations can use the additional investment from Fairtrade cocoa sales to tackle the problems they face — from projects to improve their farming methods and the quality of the cocoa they produce, to schooling for their children and health facilities in their villages. But the needs are still so great. That’s why working with Mars is so important — together we have the potential to have real measurable impact on the ground.”