Our Strategy and Priorities

Mars Associate teaching others about cocoa beans at Cocoa Development Centre in Indonesia
Our aim is to improve the livelihoods of farmers and to create mutual benefits for their community

Our aim is to source more sustainably produced raw materials, boosting farmers’ incomes and creating mutual benefits for the communities that supply them. We base our decisions on the best available scientific data, collaborate with a variety of partners and work directly with suppliers to achieve lasting results.

Vision and ambition are important factors in driving change. Once we have defined our approach to sourcing an ingredient, we set a firm target to purchase 100 percent of the material in this way. As with our science-based targets for eliminating our operational environmental impacts, these certification targets are based on what needs to be done to address our impacts, rather than simply what we believe we can do today.

We have set targets to source 100 percent of several key raw materials using more sustainable approaches, most often through independent certification programs such as the Rainforest Alliance, UTZ Certified, Fairtrade International and the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil.

While certification programs do not eliminate all the social and environmental problems prevalent in many supply chains, they strive to verify that raw materials are sourced in a way that benefits producers, their communities, the environment and the industry. We are working with our certification partners to make farmer productivity and profit more central to their standards and processes, and because they are able to reach larger numbers of farmers than we can alone. Our sourcing strategies involve additional elements such as scientific research and farmer training programs that, in partnership with others, will develop even better solutions. Our Vision for Change program for cocoa farmers in Côte d’Ivoire is one example.

We are developing a strategic approach to supply chain sustainability that is supported by partners including the University of California Davis (UC Davis), The Sustainability Consortium, the Sustainable Agriculture Initiative, the Sustainable Food Lab. This work will ensure we build on existing best practices and create lasting positive change. Much progress has already been made in the way we source several individual raw materials, and this experience is also informing our strategy.

In particular, we believe our work to strengthen the cocoa supply chain is without precedent. It is raising standards throughout the industry and providing a model for other raw materials such as peanuts, where Mars Chocolate is implementing a similar style of program.

How we prioritize

Our method of sourcing more sustainably differs depending on the raw material. To identify, measure and prioritize our supply chain impacts and determine the best method of sourcing, we are starting to apply the same rigorous, structured approach that we have used in our direct operations. We use expert knowledge, stakeholder feedback and techniques such as lifecycle analysis to identify where and how we can make the biggest difference. We focus our efforts on these areas, and support more general work on the sustainability of agricultural systems to help drive change where we have less influence.

This process has helped us to identify ingredients where the large volume we buy means we can use our purchasing power to push for more sustainable production methods. These include cocoa and rice. We have robust programs and partnerships in place to improve agricultural practices for these crops and help the communities producing them thrive.

We purchase large quantities of grains, sugars, dairy products and meats but do not yet have formal strategies for these ingredients. We are developing strategies internally, and working with partners, including The Sustainability Consortium, to identify sustainability hotspots among agricultural commodities.

The graphic shows the raw materials we purchase most by volume.

Graph showing raw materials that Mars purchases most, by volume.

We purchase smaller quantities of other ingredients that are associated with substantial social and environmental impacts, including palm oil, fish, tea and coffee. We share responsibility for tackling these impacts with many other purchasers and seek industry partnerships through which we can help develop solutions.

raw material usage

Mars, Incorporated Deforestation Policy


Forests serve as important reservoirs of carbon, and the clearance of primary forest cover causes serious increases in greenhouse gas emissions. Forests also provide a habitat for half of known plant and animal species, regulate local rainfall patterns and provide livelihoods for millions of people in rural communities.

However, forest cover is disappearing, and the rapid expansion of agricultural land to feed a growing population is a major cause. This is a particular problem in tropical areas, where much of the deforestation taking place is illegal, and areas of high conservation value and high carbon stocks are being lost.1

In many cases, forest is being cleared for plantations without the consent of local communities or respect for their right to access the land.

Mars sources key raw materials such as beef, cocoa, coffee, palm oil, pulp and paper, sugar, soy and tea from tropical countries. As one of the world’s leading food companies, we recognize the need to protect forests and biodiversity, minimize the carbon footprint of our supply chain and respect human rights.

Mars also supports efforts to increase yields of key crops such as cocoa through improved breeding and production techniques and through our pioneering work on agroforestry. This reduces the need to clear forest for agricultural expansion and reduces the pressure on remaining natural forests.

Our commitment

Mars is committed to taking action on deforestation in our supply chains. We will achieve this by only sourcing beef, palm oil, pulp and paper, and soy from producers and suppliers that demonstrate compliance with the following, within the timeframe specified in the policy applicable to the relevant raw material:

  • Produce or purchase all raw materials from legal sources

  • No deforestation of primary forest or areas of high conservation value

  • No development in high carbon stock forest areas

  • No development on peatlands regardless of depth

  • No burning to clear land for new developments or to re-plant existing developments

  • Mars, Incorporated Supplier Code of Conduct, which sets our expectations in the areas of child labor, forced labor, discrimination, compensation and benefits, working hours, freedom of association and right to collective bargaining, health and safety, the environment and ethical business practices

  • Respect the right of all affected communities to give or withhold their free, prior and informed consent for plantation developments on land they own legally, communally or by custom

  • Resolve land rights disputes through a balanced and transparent dispute resolution process

  • Support farmers and plantation owners to comply with this policy.

Scope of policy and timeframe

Our initial focus is on four raw materials with the greatest impact on forests: beef, palm oil, pulp and paper, and soy. This policy applies to 100 percent of these raw materials sourced by Mars, Incorporated.

Our palm oil policy is available on our website, and we plan to issue policies for pulp and paper, beef and soy by year-end 2014. The policies will indicate the time frame applicable for each raw material.

The deforestation policy will apply to all our agricultural raw materials in the long term.

Governance of this policy

Responsibility for implementing this policy lies with the commercial teams responsible for sourcing our raw materials, with oversight from our Corporate Sustainability Team.

In addition, we will:

  • Monitor our progress and evaluate the deforestation risk of other raw materials, to ensure we remain focused on the materials and regions most urgently requiring action.

  • Report transparently on our progress at least annually through our Principles in Action Summary.

  • Partner with industry, governments and civil society on broader efforts to protect forests and ensure mutual benefits for the workers and communities that rely on them for their livelihoods. In particular, we will work with the Consumer Goods Forum to progress on this issue.

Additional Information

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