A group of women gathered in a Côte d’Ivoire village.
Mars Wrigley

Respecting Human Rights in The Cocoa Supply Chain

A letter from Andrew Clarke, Global President Mars Wrigley. 

I’m proud to announce the publication of our first ever Cocoa Human Rights report, Respecting Human Rights in the Cocoa Supply Chain, outlining our work to advance respect for human rights through our Responsible Cocoa pillar, the progress we’ve made, what we’ve learned, and where more effort and collaboration is needed in order to achieve our 2025 human rights goals. 

In September 2019, I was privileged to visit Côte d’Ivoire, the world’s largest producer of cocoa, where I had a unique opportunity to meet farmers and their families and see first-hand how life in their villages and communities revolves around cocoa.  This incredible experience reminded me how important thriving cocoa farmers are to our Mars Wrigley chocolate brands, and how critical it is that we continue to live our Purpose: Better Moments Make the World Smile.
By focusing each day on creating Better Moments and More Smiles we pave the way towards our long-term ambition: to build a more inclusive, modern and sustainable cocoa supply chain. We believe we all have a role in creating this transformational change. Sharing our experience of what we believe works and what doesn’t, can be a catalyst to encourage others to work with us and drive change that can improve lives for cocoa farmers and communities.  
We know that the cacao plant is vulnerable to pests and disease and the communities that grow it are exposed to multiple challenges, from poverty to lack of access to healthcare, education or basic human rights. Vulnerable groups such as women, children and migrant workers, may face additional hardships. COVID-19 is exacerbating these vulnerabilities across cocoa farming communities and beyond.

In collaboration with others, this past year our efforts to address human rights challenges in cocoa have been driven by our Protecting Children Action Plan and we scaled up our programs to reach even more cocoa farming communities.  I’m encouraged by the strong potential of child labor monitoring and remediation systems (CLMRS) and the positive impact of our collaboration with chocolate and cocoa industry peers and cocoa suppliers - mutually sharing our knowledge is a win-win for everyone along the cocoa supply chain. I’m also delighted to see stronger collaboration evolving with governments and civil society groups, largely focused on tackling and preventing root causes of child labor and forced labor - empowering women, expanding access to quality education, and improving farmer income. I’m particularly proud of our own efforts in these areas, especially:

  • The significant expansion of CLMRS across our cocoa supply chain in West Africa with nearly 70% (from 51% in 2019) of total volumes of cocoa sourced in Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana coming from farmer groups that have CLMRS in place.
  • Empowering women socially and economically by doubling the Village Savings and Loans Associations program membership in 2020, reaching 24,000 members, and our $10M commitment to CARE to reach more than 60,000 members by 2025.
  • Our collaboration with the KIT Royal Tropical Institute to conduct gender research and develop insight-driven recommendations for potential future investments in women’s empowerment in cocoa growing communities in Ghana, Côte d’Ivoire and Indonesia.

Our $3.3M commitment to support the Jacobs Foundation’s creation of two new funding facilities aimed at promoting quality education and early childhood development and nutrition in Côte d’Ivoire. While we are making strides in our approach, much more must be done to reach our ambitions.  Everyone involved in the cocoa supply chain must step up and help drive sustained improvements to the lives of cocoa farmers. We also need strong public private partnerships so that government efforts to support cocoa farmers are backed up by industry and civil society and vice-versa.

There’s no doubt 2020 was filled with change, challenges, and hardships for people, communities and businesses but we have continued to see the power of collaboration, especially during such difficult times.  2021 has been declared the International Year for the Elimination of Child Labor, so it’s fitting that our report is published now. I hope it will contribute to broadening awareness of the challenges and opportunities in cocoa communities, and that it will be a useful tool for dialogue to help us sharpen our focus, strengthen the call to action for governments, companies and civil society to collectively step-up efforts to advance respect for rights of vulnerable workers and accelerate impact. 

Andrew Clarke
Global President Mars Wrigley