We’re focused on three main areas that put cocoa farmers, farming communities and the environment at the center of our efforts: Protect Children, Preserve Forests, and Improve Farmer Incomes.
We aim to obtain our cocoa from sources that are independently verified to conform to our initial Responsible Cocoa Specification and for these to be traceable by 2025.
Our Responsible Cocoa Specification builds on existing certification requirements from Fairtrade and Rainforest Alliance and requires additional elements including the specific locations and boundaries for all farms, child labor monitoring and remediation systems in at risk areas, and an overhaul of premiums so that farmers receive a higher share.
We will continue to capture feedback on our Responsible Cocoa Specification from suppliers, implementation partners, certification programs and other cocoa stakeholders with the intent to incorporate new learnings in a future iteration.
Mars condemns the use of forced and hazardous child labor and is committed to working with governments, suppliers, farming communities and others to eradicate it from cocoa supply chains. Hazardous child labor is a reality in today’s cocoa supply chain, but through implementing monitoring and remediation systems, instances can be dramatically reduced.
Early indications show that child labor monitoring and remediation systems can halve the rate of hazardous child labor for families that take part. Increasing coverage must be the focus in the near- term. The balance of the reductions will require community-based investments that help tackle root causes, including investments in Women’s Social and Economic Empowerment, Increases Access to Quality Education, and Increasing Income. We will seek to ensure 100% of at-risk families in our cocoa supply chains are covered by child labor and forced labor monitoring and remediation systems by 2025. We anticipate needing to reach more than 150,000 cocoa farming households with an estimated 500,000 children in Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire and will also take action in other origin countries as appropriate. Learn more about how we’re protecting children.
Our goal by 2025: All cocoa we source will be traceable and deforestation-free.*
We want to help farmers grow more cocoa on existing farmland without further expansion of land use. To stamp out deforestation, precision is critical. That’s one of the reasons why our focus is on traceability and requiring our suppliers to use polygon mapping to trace farm boundaries. Polygon mapping provides a more accurate picture of the farm’s location because it shows the boundaries of the entire farm, rather than just one GPS location point. This approach supports the protection of forests while further refining yield estimates and coaching farmers on profitable investments.
In 2018, as part of our Responsible Cocoa pillar, we set the goal for our cocoa to be traceable from the farm to the first point of purchase. In March 2019, we published our approach to achieve a deforestation-free supply chain by 2025 and shared it publicly. This included sharing information on our Mars Cocoa Supply Chain, including identifying our tier 1 suppliers, our sourcing origins and traceability status. Our tier 1 suppliers are the direct suppliers to manufacturers (traders that buy from farmer groups for resale). This information is vital for us to implement a deforestation monitoring system that combines data, on-the-ground verification and satellite monitoring.
The challenges the cocoa industry faces are complex and must be tackled collectively. We firmly support the frameworks for action introduced by the governments of Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana as part of the Cocoa and Forests Initiative. In full alignment with these frameworks, we have developed company action plans for the two countries and are proud to share our progress: Mars Action Plans. The action plans set out our actions, targets and progress achieved so far within the three CFI pillars of Forest Protection and Restoration, Sustainable Production and Farmers’ Livelihoods, and Community Engagement and Social Inclusion. We are working in partnership with all our suppliers and technical expert organizations to pursue quality implementation of our CFI country action plans.
Following Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana, our priority countries for 2021 are Indonesia, Brazil and Cameroon. This year, we will complete forest risk assessments in these countries and develop a country action plan for Indonesia. The Action for Brazil and Cameroon will be published in 2021. With respect to Ecuador, we will complete a further risk assessment in 2021 as well as review our approach in other countries from which we source cocoa. Learn more about our approach to cocoa and forests.
*As defined by the Accountability Framework Initiative
We need a system that ensures a higher amount of the money paid through premiums reaches the farmers. Transparency is key to making this a reality.
At present, the amount of premium farmers receive varies in different regions. We support improving transparency and increasing what farmers receive. We are collecting information from our suppliers on the level of transparency they require from farmer groups. We’ve also engaged certifiers to discuss their requirements on how premiums are distributed between farmer groups and farmers. Cash and in-kind incentives, such as planting materials and fertilizers, are a way to provide farmers with more income for implementing responsible practices. We are working with farmers to get their views on the changes needed, including the mechanisms (cash and in-kind) they would support.
As part of our Responsible Cocoa Specification, suppliers need to show that premium payments are separated from the overall price farmers are paid for their cocoa. In addition, we support supplier efforts to test and scale digital payments to farmers’ mobile phones or online wallets. To make this happen additional mobile banking and cellular infrastructure is needed.
The challenges faced by the cocoa sector are too great for any one company to tackle alone. It’s imperative we engage and collaborate with stakeholders across the cocoa sector – governments, suppliers, farming communities, multi-stakeholder organizations, NGOs and peers – to find solutions and accelerate change.
We work with many organizations to support cocoa growing communities, including certifiers such as Rainforest Alliance and Fairtrade, NGOs such as Verité, CARE International, and foundations including the Jacobs Foundation. Learn more about our farmer income position statement.
Farmer Income Lab
We engage with Oxfam on ways to improve farmer incomes through our Farmer Income Lab, our think- do-tank created by Mars to ask the right questions, create solutions and inspire action to build global supply chains that work for farmers and for business. This lab has a steering committee comprised of external experts from a number of industry, academic and third-party organizations.Visit the lab
Mars has been buying cocoa to make our chocolate brands for over a century, putting this integral ingredient at the heart of our company’s heritage. For four decades we have partnered with others to work towards our goal of more sustainable cocoa production. We know that a truly sustainable cocoa sector is essential if we are to continue to provide chocolate for future generations of chocolate lovers. Our ambition is to create an environmentally sustainable supply chain where everyone, especially cocoa farmers, has the opportunity to thrive and human rights are respected.
We are committed to taking action to drive transformational change that makes a lasting impact across the entire cocoa supply chain, unlocking opportunities for farmers, their families and their communities. We believe that through Cocoa for Generations and our wider environmental stewardship, we have a chance to do that, and are pleased to share our progress.Download the Cocoa for Generations 2019 Report