CHICAGO — Mars Wrigley Confectionery is putting the interests of smallholder farmers at the center of “Cocoa for Generations,” its new plan for overhauling its cocoa supply chain. The initiative is backed by an investment of $1 billion over 10 years and is incremental to the “Sustainable in a Generation" plan that Mars announced in 2017.
“For nearly 40 years we’ve been working to achieve sustainable cocoa production,” said John Ament, global vice-president — cocoa, Mars Wrigley Confectionery. “While we’ve made progress, including reaching nearly 180,000 farmers with sustainability certification, we are impatient with our pace of progress and of the cocoa sector overall. We don’t have all the answers, but our first step is to put the farmer at the center of our ambitions and actions. We plan to inspire others and work together to ensure Cocoa for Generations.”
Mars said the Cocoa for Generations plan consists of two pillars: Responsible Cocoa Today and Sustainable Cocoa Tomorrow.
As part of the first pillar, Mars has set a goal to make 100% of its cocoa from the Responsible Cocoa program responsibly sourced globally and traceable by 2025. The company wants to have systems in place to address deforestation, child labor and higher incomes for farmers.
The company said it expects farms that are part of the program to provide satellite-based GPS locations for farms that supply its cocoa to ensure that cocoa is not coming from protected forest areas. In addition, Mars said it will work with its partners to ensure that the model for premiums the company pays for responsibly-produced cocoa is overhauled to ensure that farmers receive a higher share of the premium.
Mars said it will maintain its current certified cocoa levels with the Rainforest Alliance and with Fairtrade.
“We can all agree there needs to be a change on the ground for farmers, their families and forests,” said Britta Wyss Bisang, chief of sustainable supply chains for the Rainforest Alliance. “We commend Mars for deepening their commitment to cocoa producers and for recognizing that step-change in action on the ground is needed. We look forward to furthering our relationship with Mars as this is well aligned with our new strategy, which puts more focus on collaboration between producers, N.G.O.s, companies and governments.”
As part of the second pillar, Mars said it hopes to demonstrate that a step-change in farmer income and livelihoods is possible. The company said it plans to test ways to increase productivity, income, resilience and overall sustainability through crop and income diversification, gender programs, village and savings and loan models and farm development plans.
Mars also said it intends to work with the industry, governments and other civil society partners to find shared solutions and mutually-beneficial results for cocoa farming families.