Sustainable Agriculture and Land Use – Sustainability - Mars, Incorporated
land usage


Over the course of hundreds of years, farming and herding have transformed the Earth’s landscape. More efficient large-scale farming has helped drive yield improvements in commodity crops, helped feed a growing population with rising incomes and supported global trade.

At the same time, agriculture is faced with challenges, including degrading soil quality, fertilizer and pesticide run off and the effects of climate change. These challenges require action to protect land for future productive use and preserve biodiversity habitats and natural resources.

Science says no more than 15 percent of land globally should be cultivated for crops. Today, the planet is right on the cusp of this threshold with 13 percent of land being cultivated as of 2010. That’s why it’s now our goal as part of our Sustainable in a Generation Plan to hold flat the total land area associated with our value chain.


Science tells us no more than 15 percent of land globally should be used for crops. As of 2010, the planet was right at that cusp, with 13 percent being used. Mars is focusing on efficiency and sustainable land use to responsibly manage land.


Sustainable land management is the building block for sustainable agriculture, and we believe we have a role to play in helping to stop, prevent and reverse practices that degrade land and put pressure on natural ecosystems.


We’ve begun with efforts to end deforestation in our beef, cocoa, palm oil, pulp and paper, and soy value chains.

We’re working with our supply chain partners to boost agricultural production without extending our overall land footprint. This requires a focus on efficient and sustainable land use, as well as the rehabilitation of degraded land and soil health. We see significant opportunity, for example, to increase cocoa yields. Today, cocoa accounts for nearly one-third of our land footprint and has potential for triple yields, which would deliver roughly half the land use reduction needed to absorb our planned business growth.


Our Land Use Position Paper
Our Deforestation Policy
Our Beef Sourcing & Deforestation Policy
Our Pulp- & Paper-based Materials Deforestation Policy
Our Soy-sourcing & Deforestation Policy


In addition to land management, leveraging science to improve production processes and increase healthy yields on existing cultivated land can help transform cocoa farmers’ livelihoods. In 2010, with partners IBM and the US Department of Agriculture, we published the preliminary version of the cacao genome, the first step in advancing farmers’ ability to plant more robust, higher-yielding, and drought and disease-resistant trees.


More recently, we’ve become part of the Cocoa & Forests Initiative, collaborating with other companies to tackle forest loss linked to cocoa production. In November 2017, we endorsed the Cocoa & Forests Initiative pledge to end deforestation and restore forests, starting in Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana, the world’s main cocoa producers. We’ll continue our scientific research to improve cocoa plant breeding and production techniques. More cocoa from less land means less pressure on forests.

We’re also partnering with suppliers and third-party organizations to utilize and strengthen certifications, verifications and other best-practice sustainability approaches.

As necessary, we’re prepared to replace the raw materials we source and/or change where we source to reduce deforestation risk.


At Mars, we are working to stop the cycle of environmental degradation and create a greener future for all.

Mars is working with suppliers and other partners to examine the impacts of land use in our supply chains on people and the planet and identify ways we can work together to improve these outcomes. This is just the first step toward our ultimate aim of measuring and reducing the impact we have on land use. To begin, we’ve measured our land use in three areas:

  • Factories — Factories are hugely important to business, but their land use only accounts for around 0.05 percent of total use in our value chain.
  • Raw materials — It takes a lot of land for our partners to grow the raw materials we need for our business — 97.8 percent of our total use.
  • Packaging — Packaging our products takes up a bit more land than producing them — 2.2 percent of our total land use.

With this information in hand, we can go about making a difference. One approach is to use biodiversity hotspot maps to help us see where reducing land use needs to be a priority. Another approach would be to develop a land use impact “factor” that takes into account things like biodiversity impacts, soil fertility and soil erosion.