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 $1 billion investment over 10 years (2018-2028), Cocoa for Generations places the interests of the smallholder farmer at its center. It’s how we hope to step-change efforts and invite the cocoa sector to partner with us in a new approach, given all we have learned over the years about what works and does not work. Today, we aim to focus efforts specifically on increasing farmer income and helping to safeguard children and forests, while creating a pathway for future cacao farmers, their families and communities to thrive. Today we are excited to share an important milestone that is critical to the success of this strategy: the publication of our very first Protecting Children Action Plan, or PCAP for short, along with two significant investments that will improve the lives of families in our cocoa growing communities.
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 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.
- 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. Together with CARE International, we have developed a unique Village Savings and Loans Association (VSLA) model that includes a number of essential building blocks beyond the foundational savings and loans activity.
To bolster our partnership with CARE, we will extend our support with an additional $10M investment to further expand our unique VSLA model beyond the 12,000 members we have supported through mid-2019 toreach an estimated additional 50,000 members by 2025.We will announce this new investment publicly together with CARE on February 20th.
- 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.
- Increasing Income: At Mars, we believe everyone working within our extended supply chains should earn sufficient income to maintain a decent standard of living. We are defining and piloting models for increasing productivity and diversifying household income, through other cash crops and non-farm earnings, for example. This work is taking place in collaboration with suppliers, expert implementation partners and the Farmer Income Lab.
Read our Protecting Children Action Plan 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.