Cocoa for Generations Aims to Protect Families in Cocoa-Farming Communities
At Mars we’ve been making chocolate and buying cocoa for more than 100 years, putting cocoa at the heart of our company’s long heritage. Four decades have been spent working in collaboration with others to achieve sustainable cocoa production. Cocoa is an integral ingredient in our beloved chocolate products and we know a sustainable cocoa sector is essential to ensure we can continue to provide chocolate for future generations of chocolate lovers. This means creating a cocoa sector where everyone, especially cocoa farmers, has the opportunity to thrive, human rights are respected, and the environment is protected. Over the years we’ve made progress in tackling the environmental and social challenges facing the cocoa sector. However, we recognize that today’s cocoa supply chain does not deliver on our ambition for everyone along the chain to have the opportunity to thrive. The cocoa supply chain is broken, and current interventions are not enough to fix it. It was this realization, together with our company’s commitment to create mutual benefits for all as outlined in our Sustainable in a Generation Plan, which led us to launch the Cocoa for Generations strategy in 2018, backed by a plan to invest billion over ten years (2018–2028) with the ambition of contributing to transforming the cocoa supply chain so that global sustainable development goals are met, human rights are respected, the environment is protected, and cocoa farmers, their families and their communities have the opportunity to thrive.
Part of this strategy was the development of our Protecting Children Action Plan, published in February 2020.
To find out more about the progress, learnings and insights against the goals set out in the Protecting Children Action Plan, read our cocoa human rights report titled, Respecting Human Rights in the Cocoa Supply Chain.
Protecting Children Action Plan
The PCAP is our strategic approach to protecting children in cocoa farming communities and sets out how we identify, prevent and mitigate human rights issues with a focus on child and forced labor in our extended cocoa supply chain. Our PCAP approach comprises four main levers, designed to be mutually reinforcing:
- Robust Child and Forced Labor Monitoring and Remediation Systems to ensure our suppliers have robust systems to identify, prevent and seek to remediate child labor and forced labor (as defined by the ILO conventions) - we will seek to ensure 100% of at-risk families in our cocoa supply chains are covered by Robust Child and Forced Labor Monitoring and Remediation Systems by 2025.
- Implementing robust child labor monitoring and remediation systems (CLMRS) has proven to have the potential to meaningfully reduce the risks, prevalence and severity of child labor, and it’s a model we expect all suppliers to have in place in West Africa by 2025. As of the end of 2021, we expanded coverage of child labor monitoring and remediation systems (CLMRS), through our suppliers, to 70% of volumes sourced in Côte d'Ivoire and Ghana, across over 117,000 farmers, and are on track to meet our 100% by 2025 commitment.
- Women’s Social and Economic Empowerment: The well-being of women in cocoa communities is a critical link to family food security and nutrition, education, and health and drives the long-term prospects for a future of educated cocoa farmers. In 2016, together with CARE International, we developed a unique Village Savings and Loans Association (VSLA) model, Women for Change, that includes a number of essential building blocks beyond the foundational savings and loans activity.
- In 2020, encouraged by the Women for Change model and its proven results, we committed an additional $10M to further expand this unique model with CARE to reach more than 60,000 members by 2025. In September 2022, we exceeded our target reaching more than 77.000 Village Savings and Loans Associations (VSLAs) members (more than 75% are women) across Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire.
- Women and girls' empowerment is a dynamic and transformative process of change, which requires addressing gender inequalities and disempowerment across multiple dimensions; this also presents a variety of entry points for the transformation needed to reshape the future of cocoa. To address these challenges, we have partnered with the Royal Tropical Institute (KIT) to conduct qualitative research to understand and explain behaviors, experiences, and attitudes in relation to the inequality and disempowerment that women face in their daily lives in cocoa growing communities in Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana, and Indonesia. It was concluded that the longer-term, often overlooked and neglected “mainstreaming” work of changing mindsets and social norms is essential if we want to make meaningful progress in lowering barriers to equality, reducing poverty, and unlocking the full potential of women and girls. Mars is taking action by embedding a gender transformative lens into its cocoa policies, strategies, partnerships and programs linked to human rights, the environment, and farmer income. The detailed findings have been described in the following two reports:
- KIT Empathy Report
- KIT Viability Report
- Increasing Access to Quality Education and Development Opportunities for Children: Education access and quality are critical components of driving better long-term futures for children in cocoa-growing communities. Since 2017, we have worked with the Transforming Education in Cocoa Communities (TRECC) program funded by the Jacobs, Bernard van Leer and UBS Optimus Foundations, through the implementation of a number of pilots. This work has given us insights into the powerful linkages between robust monitoring systems, women’s empowerment and education interventions. In the long term, investing in education can have a positive circular effect: educated children can earn higher incomes and contribute more to the development of their own children, households and communities. We will continue to learn from our work with Jacobs Foundation and other expert education organizations to develop additional programs and interventions where relevant, particularly in other countries.
- In 2020, in collaboration with a number of key industry players and stakeholders from the cocoa industry, we committed $3M to support the Jacobs Foundation’s creation of two new funding facilities aimed at promoting quality education and early childhood development and nutrition, in line with the Côte d’Ivoire’s government strategic objectives in the fight against child labor.
- Increasing Income: At Mars, we believe everyone working within our extended supply chains should earn sufficient income to maintain a decent standard of living. Increasing their income is incredibly complex, and it is only one aspect of the multi-dimensional poverty small holder farmers are facing. No single player can solve poverty alone but as a company we can play a significant role, using an evidence-based and principles-led approach alongside other critical actors, including governments, suppliers, supply chain partners, the Farmer Income Lab and the farmers themselves, in achieving this ambition.
We see great opportunity for a real change and have embarked on a holistic, development journey to achieve and sustain a living income for cocoa growing communities.
With the launch of two groundbreaking programs, designed in consultation with cocoa farmers and a network of leading organizations — including Fairtrade, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), Institute for Development Impact (I4DI), and ECOOKIM, a Fairtrade Cooperatives Union that Mars has sourced from for several years — we aim to support 14,000 smallholder farmers in Côte d’Ivoire and Indonesia on a path to a sustainable living income by 2030.
The effort seeks to address challenges created by market failures and climate change by bundling interventions around credit and financial inclusion, agroforestry and income diversification, helping to create the conditions in which families with small cocoa farms can lift themselves out of poverty.
Read more on the two groundbreaking, farmer-first programs here.
Read our Protecting Children Action Plan here.
Read our Respecting Human Rights in The Cocoa Supply Chain Report here.
Read our 2021 Cocoa for Generations Report here.
Ensuring cocoa farmers can thrive is an objective that is too big for any one company to tackle alone and it requires intense effort from a wide range of other stakeholders. At Mars, we’re committed to sustainable leadership and developing approaches that are tailored to meet the varied challenges facing farmers in different parts of the world. We will continue to collaborate with farmer communities, cocoa suppliers, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), industry groups, governments, and others to ensure the long-term sustainability of cocoa.