As a leader in cocoa science in the industry's global effort for cocoa sustainability and an innovator in cocoa knowledge, Mars is making a positive difference for cocoa farmers and their families around the world.
For nearly 30 years, Mars has pursued a cocoa sustainability strategy with a goal to secure resposible cocoa production and the future supply of the crop. Our aim is for cocoa to thrive in harmony with the environment and to the benefit of the comunities involved throughout its supply chain. In April 2009, Mars made the commitment that by 2020, we aim to purchase only sustainably grown cocoa for our global needs. As the first global chocolate company to make such a commitment, we have launched a multi-year, multi-country collaboration with the Rainforest Alliance. This international, not-for-profit organization works to conserve biodiversity and sustainability by transforming land-use practices, business practices and consumer behavior. Our goal is to build toward Rainforest Alliance certification of 100,000 metric tonnes of cocoa, and to work with UTZ Certified to certify another 100,000 metric tonnes of cocoa, for use annually in 100% certified Mars products. As this is just a portion of our needs, we will also work with other certifiers to achieve our total goal by 2020.
Engagement against child labour
The supply chain of cocoa is very complex. Over 90% of all cocoa comes from some three million small family farmers who depend on cocoa production for their livelihoods. Our support is designed to ensure future supplies of cocoa and involve ourselves responsibly so that communities growing cocoa can prosper and the environment where cocoa is grown remains sustainable.
Since 2001 Mars has played a leadership role in the global cocoa and chocolate industry's efforts to address allegations of child abuse on the cocoa farms of West Africa. Mars is working with the national governments of Cote d'Ivoire and Ghana (the world's largest cocoa growing countries), labor experts and community-based organizations to support the establishment of a certification process to ensure that cocoa is farmed free from the worst forms of child labor. This certification process began in July 2008, and initially covers 50% of the cocoa growing regions of Côte d'Ivoire and Ghana.
Coooperation with other organisations
We recognize that achieving real change requires working in partnership with others having skills complementary to our own. To support that approach, the International Cocoa Initiative (ICI), an independent voice dedicated to eradicating abusive child and forced labor in cocoa production worldwide, was established in 2002. As a registered charity, the ICI's Board of Directors represents a wide range of stakeholders: human rights and child labor organizations, trades unions, local groups in the cocoa growing countries, and the cocoa and chocolate industry. As a member of the International Cocoa Initiative's (ICI) Board of Directors and their membership in UTZ Certified, Mars is committed to eradicate child labor and abduction.
We are also working to improve the livelihoods of cocoa farmers and their families through our participation in the Sustainable Tree Crops Program (STCP), a public-private partnership between the cocoa and chocolate industry and government supporters. This program, which is operating in West Africa, has successfully promoted farmers' organizations and co-operatives leading to improvements designed to help farmers achieve better prices for their cocoa. Through its Farmer Field Schools Program, the STCP also helps farmers achieve increased yields by improving farming techniques.
In addition, Mars is a member of the World Cocoa Foundation (WCF), a global organization of cocoa and chocolate companies, processors, traders and others who are dedicated to improving the conditions of cocoa farmers and the communities in which they live. WCF programs raise farmer incomes, encourage responsible, sustainable cocoa farming and help strengthen cocoa farming communities. Members provide financial contributions as well as technical expertise and guidance to partners in West Africa and other program locations.
Support of social initiatives
Mars is supporting social initiatives committed to improving the working conditions of farmers and ensuring their children get a school education. This includes programs such as the Farmer Field Schools in West & Central Africa, East Asia and Latin America. Smallholders and their families learn about preventive health and safety precautions in production, and are made aware of how significant school education is for the future of their children. The Farmer Field Schools have already reached several hundred thousand smallholders, thereby helping them increase their average income by 30 to 40 percent.
These steps to address cocoa growing conditions in West Africa are the continuation of a long-term commitment Mars began in 1998 to improve the well-being of millions of small farmers who grow cocoa. To learn more, please visit www.cocoasustainability.mars.com.