Our Raw Materials: Rice | Sustainable Sourcing | Mars Inc.
Rice

SUSTAINABLE RICE SOURCING FOR THE FUTURE

Rice is an incredible food — and given that it’s a staple for half the global population, it needs to be protected. As the maker of UNCLE BEN’S®, the world’s largest global rice brand, we are working to create a sustainable, long-term rice supply that can support our business growth while helping to meet the nutritional needs of a growing global population.

Through our Sustainable in a Generation Plan, Mars committed to receiving 100 percent of our rice from farmers working toward Sustainable Rice Platform standards by 2020. We’ve seen incredible progress. According to our 2017-2018 Report, we’re currently getting 73 percent of our rice from farmers working toward those standards — that’s up from only 10 percent in 2016.

We’re seeing other impressive results — for example, in Pakistan we have seen a 32 percent increase in farmer income, a 17 percent increase in yield and a 30 percent reduction in water use among farmers who have adopted more sustainable growing methods. Farmers in the U.S. who have adopted more sustainable farming methods are reducing water use and greenhouse gas emissions. In fact, one of the farmers who provides rice for UNCLE BEN’S® was the first rice farmer in the U.S. to sell a carbon offset on an exchange because of the GHG savings he had achieved on his farm.

SUSTAINABLE IN A GENERATION PLAN: RICE TARGET

We've committed to source 100 percent of our rice from farmers working toward the Sustainable Rice Platform (SRP) standard for sustainable rice by 2020 and are working with other manufacturers and global NGOs to further the standards outlined by the SRP. Our 2017-2018 Report shows we’ve made great strides and that we’re 73 percent of the way to our goal, up from only 10 percent in 2016. In addition we have impact-focused intervention programs in place targeting those issues that are most key to the farmers and the farmland. Addressing water stress in Spain, Pakistan and India and boosting farmer income in our Asia. Mars Food works to protect the marshlands of the Doñana National Park and the Guadalquivir River estuary in southern Spain. Together with partners Ebro, Danone, Optiriego, Giesa and WWF, Mars Food encourages rice farmers to work towards the SRP standard, reduce water use and to protect biodiversity in the Guadalquivir River Delta. Along with other initiatives on rice, this is helping us meet our goal to reduce unsustainable water use by 50 percent by 2025.

2020 TARGET: 73 PERCENT OF OUR RICE FROM FARMERS WORKING TOWARD THE SUSTAINABLE RICE PLATFORM STANDARD
Progress: OUR RICE NOW COMES FROM FARMERS WORKING TOWARD THE SRP STANDARD

THE ROAD AHEAD: A MUTUAL SOLUTION FOR RICE

"Caring for our environment as well as our entire supply chain from end-to-end is more than usual corporate responsibility. It's an imperative for Mars Food. Through the global standard, we hope to create benefits for all involved from the farmers to our consumers. The benefit for us is that we are ensuring premium quality rice, while also ensuring a higher income for farmers, and a better environment for current and future generations. It is a truly mutual solution."
Fiona Dawson, Global President of Mars Food, Drinks, and Multisales

RESEARCHING LOWER-IMPACT RICE

To improve rice sustainability, we’ve invested in research at leading universities, such as the University of California-Davis and the University of Arkansas, to better understand the impacts of a farming method called “alternate wetting and drying” on water use, greenhouse gas emissions and farmer income. The research has shown that this method can reduce water use by 30 percent and lower greenhouse gas emissions by 90 percent, all without reducing crop yields. We have successfully introduced this method and other water mitigation techniques with our farmers in the United States. And we are setting up water efficiency programs in water-stressed regions in Pakistan, India and Spain, as well.

Implementing these new rice farming methods around the world could transform rice production, significantly reduce its impact on the environment, and help ensure the availability of quality rice for Mars Food and millions of families across the globe for decades to come. 

PARTNERING WITH RICE FARMERS

Mars Food is partnering with the International Rice Research Institute, Swiss-based NGO Helvetas, Oxfam, Wildlife Conservation Society, GIZ, IFC and the World Wildlife Fund to implement sustainable rice cultivation with basmati rice farmers. We are working with almost 5,000 farmers in Asia, helping them learn new techniques to improve their income, water efficiency, reduce and safely manage their use of fertilizers and pesticides, and improve the health and safety of farm workers. As a result of these efforts, in Pakistan we have seen a 32 percent increase in farmer income and a 17 percent increase in yield. We’re strengthening our supply chain and the communities we depend on, ultimately bringing you a wider array of specialty rice products. As more farmers learn sustainable rice farming techniques — and more manufacturers commit to sourcing sustainable rice — we can greatly improve the sustainability of the global rice supply.

As more farmers learn sustainable rice farming techniques — and more manufacturers commit to sourcing sustainable rice — we can greatly improve the sustainability of the global rice supply.

RiceMubashar
Mubasahar Naveed Wagha
Village Khairpur Mallian
“I’ve been a contract farmer for the last 4 years. Rice Partners, Ltd. respects us. They visit us regularly during both the sowing and harvesting seasons. They give us very good prices and their method of payment is swift.”
RiceAsghar
Asghar Mujahid
Village Khairpur Mallian
"3 years ago, I became a contract farmer. Since then, the Rice Partners, Ltd. team has guided me on proper farming practice. They visited us weekly and gave us fruitful advice through training programs and rice experts."
RiceMuhammad
Muhammad Idris
Village Sidham
“I have been a contract farmer for the last 3 years. They have a quality team that visits us regularly and advises us on what to do and what not to do including pesticide and fungicide usage and timing. Because of this my crop quality has improved."

THE SUSTAINABLE RICE PLATFORM

While we are committed to advancing rice sustainability, we cannot change global rice production alone. Even though we have one of the largest global rice brands, we buy less than 0.5 percent of the total global supply. By partnering with others in our industry and leading non-governmental organizations, we hope to increase the amount of rice being produced sustainably and support more farmers and their communities.

We’re proud to be a leading member of the Sustainable Rice Platform (SRP), a global multistakeholder alliance led by UN Environment and the International Rice Research Institute. This alliance also comprises dozens of government agencies, private-sector corporations, research institutions and NGOs, including the World Wildlife Fund, Fairtrade, Rainforest Alliance, and Wildlife Conservation Society.

In October 2015, the SRP launched the first-ever global standard for sustainable rice. Working together, members of the SRP have developed a set of criteria for sustainable rice cultivation that can be used around the world to reduce the environmental footprint of rice production and improve the lives of rice farmers. The SRP standard assesses suppliers on 46 requirements around key topics, including:

  • Productivity
  • Food safety
  • Worker health
  • Labor rights

Mars Food played a leading role in the development of the SRP standard. We are using the standard to verify our rice supply chains and drive improvements to reach our goal of 100 percent of our rice from farmers working toward the SRP standard by 2020.

WhitakerFarms
Jim (right) and Sam Whitaker (left) on their rice farm in Arkansas, U.S.A.

“Using innovative rice-farming methods [that are] supported by Mars Food, I’ve been able to use 20 percent less fertilizer, 50 percent less water and become one of the first U.S. rice growers to sell carbon offsets, using the protocol of the California Cap and Trade Compliance market. In addition, I use fall precipitation to have an optimum shallow-water environment for migrating waterfowl, shore birds and eagles.” — Jim Whitaker, Jim Whitaker Farms

Goose Valley Ranch
George Denny (right), owner of Goose Valley Ranch, and Ted deBraga (left), Goose Valley Ranch Manager, on their farm in California, U.S.A.

“We have initiated many sustainable practices on our family-owned ranch, because we know that they will pay off, for our ranch and for the environment, over the long-term. We generate renewable energy from irrigation water, support diverse wildlife in the area and have improved soil quality. The Goose Valley Ranch and SunWest Foods team greatly value our relationship with Mars Food and proudly embrace the sustainability standards Mars is striving to achieve.” — George Denny, Goose Valley Ranch


Mars Associates are working with technical experts and farmers to make rice a more sustainable crop.