By Andrew Clarke, Global President at Mars Wrigley
World Cocoa Day gives us another opportunity to reflect on the importance of our work with cocoa growing communities.
Around this time last year, I was visiting the world’s largest cocoa growing country Côte d’Ivoire with our cocoa team, meeting with many of our partners and learning about the cacao plant and cocoa farming. The most special and memorable part of that visit was having the opportunity to spend time in the cocoa growing communities, listening to farmers and seeing firsthand how village life centers around cocoa. I had the honor of joining in the joyful celebrations of a Village Savings & Loans Association (VSLA) group, learning from the women how they were investing their savings and hearing them thank CARE and Mars for our partnership and support. I met the head of a cooperative who told me candidly what his farmers needed to thrive, and we are working to help address these issues. Cocoa for Generations is our strategy to protect children, preserve forests and increase farmer income today, while creating a sustainable cocoa supply chain of tomorrow that empowers cocoa farmers, their families and communities to thrive. The experience of that visit brought home to me how intertwined thriving cocoa farmers are with our beloved Mars Wrigley chocolate brands.
I could never have imagined that 2020 would be so dramatically different. For much of this year we have been immersed both personally and professionally in coping with COVID-19 and ensuring our business continuity. Our vulnerable cocoa farming communities worldwide have also been heavily impacted by the pandemic. I’m proud that together with our external partners we have been provided humanitarian and financial support and donated much-needed personal protection equipment and food parcels. Without these communities and without cocoa farmers, we would not have cocoa or a chocolate business.
Our Cocoa for Generations strategy continues to guide us in creating a cocoa sector where everyone, especially cocoa farmers, has the opportunity to thrive, human rights are respected, and the environment is protected.
So today, at Mars Wrigley we celebrate cocoa as an integral ingredient in our chocolate products and we also reflect how we can continue to show leadership because thriving people — our Mars Associates and cocoa farmers — together, make better chocolate. And we continue to drive towards more sustainable, modern and inclusive cocoa farming for tomorrow, inspired by our purpose Better Moments Make the World Smile.