Mars has pledged to certify 100% of its cocoa as sustainably produced by 2020. We were the first global chocolate company to make this promise, and in the near future we will be the world's largest buyer of certified cocoa.
Because we can't have a direct relationship with every farmer, we use certification to implement change on a larger scale than we could achieve on our own. Certification creates a set of standards against which cocoa farming can be measured and enables us to verify through a third party that those standards are being met. This means we know that the cocoa we use is produced in a way that is good for farmers and good for the environment.
Working from the ground up
We partner with certification organizations like Fairtrade, Rainforest Alliance and UTZ Certified that have developed advanced standards for organizing, training and auditing farmers. Through certification, farmers benefit from comprehensive training programs through third party organizations and are checked by independent auditors.
It's a mutually beneficial process. Certification gives farmers a better organizational structure within which to work and improved access to markets to help them build viable farms and increase their income. In turn, we get a traceable, safe supply of quality, sustainably produced cocoa.
Mars isn't the only food manufacturer that benefits. By making certified cocoa the rule rather than the exception, we are increasing the supply of high-quality cocoa to the whole industry because we are raising standards across the board. But industry adoption needs to be even greater. For certification to make the widespread and lasting difference that is required, many more manufacturers need to commit to certification to reach a much greater proportion of the total projected global cocoa consumption by 2020, as much as 4.5 million metric tons.
Raising standards even further
We have the most rigorous certification principles in the industry and are open to working with any organization that will work to meet them. We choose our partner organizations with care. They must make a real difference to farmers' lives in terms of income, labor practices and skills. Unless they give farmers the tools they need to increase yields, to produce quality cocoa in a sustainable, environmentally beneficial way and to significantly increase their income, we can't work with them.
While certification doesn't offer a guarantee - no one can check all of the millions of cocoa farms in the world - it does provide incentives. Combined with the other pillars of our approach - research and technology transfer - it is a powerful force for industry-wide change.
Our certification requirements
Our standards require any certification program we use to work towards:
- Improving livelihoods and increasing farmers' incomes through crop intensification and soil management, diversification and price equity
- Providing affordable, high-quality certified cocoa from diversified origins at competitive premiums
- Ensuring appropriate quality attributes of cocoa and meeting or exceeding all current food safety requirements
- Building towards a fully transparent pipeline, including price and quality signals
- Growing into a mainstream scalable program, supported by (inter)national institutions and allowing for harmonization of codes, training and auditing
- Seeking credibility through membership of ISEAL, independent monitoring and evaluation and third party endorsement
- Including stewardship of the environment and biodiversity through shade management, crop diversification and protection of biodiversity and forest reserves
- Meeting International Labor Organization Core 8 articles describing relevant human rights and labor conditions
- Leading to community empowerment and participation by investing increased income to build socially and environmentally sound communities.
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The global association for social and environmental standards.