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The global food manufacturer has announced that 100% of its UNCLE BEN’S® and SEEDS OF CHANGE® basmati rice now sourced from Sustainable Rice Platform farmers 
This is the first step in Mars Food’s industry-leading goal to source 100% of its rice from Sustainable Rice Platform farmers by 2020
The announcement comes in the wake of the launch of the $1 billion Mars Sustainable in a Generation (SiG) Plan, which outlines a set of far-reaching goals and ambitions underpinned by science and a determination to drive impact throughout the extended supply chain of the entire Mars Corporation. 

Brussels, Belgium, 19 September 2017 – Mars Food today announced that all of its basmati rice, sold under the world’s largest rice brand, UNCLE BEN’S®, and the SEEDS OF CHANGE® brand is now sourced from farmers who are working towards the Sustainable Rice Platform’s (SRP) standard for sustainable rice – a first in the global rice industry. 

More than 3.5 billion people around the world rely on rice to provide daily nutrition, and 19% of the world’s population are employed in rice production. At the same time, rice farming has significant environmental impacts. Traditional rice production practices use approximately 40% of the world’s irrigation water, and result in rice production accounting for up to 10% of global greenhouse gas emissions. With a global population growing by around 80 million people each year, demand will only increase. There is a critical need to ensure that rice can be produced more efficiently, with much less impact on the environment. 

Mars Food sources its basmati rice from India and Pakistan, through farmer partnerships which enable the company to trace its rice from field to fork. Mars Food works with its suppliers and partners, such as the International Rice Research Institute, World Wildlife Fund and Helvetas, to share innovative farming methods with farmers to improve water efficiency, reduce and safely manage their use of fertilizers and pesticides, and improve health and safety. A 2016 pilot project to test SRP technologies in Pakistan demonstrated that new growing techniques delivered an 8% increase in yield, 30% reduction in water, and 32% increase in net income. 

“The cost of farming has reduced substantially and my income has gone up”, said Irshad Ahmad Dogar, an RPL contractual farmer who grows rice for Mars according to the Sustainable Rice Platform. “I can now make sure my children get better education and schooling. Our children getting education and becoming responsible citizens of society makes my family happy.”
This is the first major milestone in Mars Food’s journey toward sourcing all of its rice varieties from farmers who are working towards the SRP standard by 2020, a commitment which the company announced in October 2015. 

“We’ve shown that sustainable rice can sustain a farmer’s livelihood,” said Luc Beerens, Global Sustainable Sourcing Director for Mars Food. “These innovations, if adopted throughout the industry, could fundamentally shift how rice is grown today, helping to protect the environment, lift farmers out of poverty, and meet future demand worldwide.”

Mars Food has worked since 2013 through the Sustainable Rice Platform (SRP), a multi-stakeholder initiative co-convened by UN Environment and the International Rice Research Institute, to develop a global standard for sustainable rice that it can use to map its supply chain, identify gaps, and drive improvements. In addition to mapping against the 46 performance indicators of the SRP, Mars Food is going further by investing in programs to address human rights and women’s empowerment in its rice supply chains. For example, the company’s women economic empowerment programme provides mobile health clinics in Pakistan. In India, the programme is facilitating a qualitative study on gender roles in the rice supply chain to develop new initiatives aimed at improving girls’ education and diversifying incomes in rice communities.
“We have greatly appreciated Mars Food’s leadership as a first-mover and front-runner within the Sustainable Rice Platform (SRP) and are pleased to see that Mars Food is building upon the SRP standard in its own supply chain through implementation of additional impact programs,” said James Lomax, UN Environment.

“Mars Food’s efforts to reduce water use and greenhouse gas emissions, and improve farmer income in its basmati supply chain, is notable and serves as a model for other players in the global rice industry,” added V. Bruce J. Tolentino, Deputy Director General, International Rice Research Institute.

The announcement comes in the wake of the launch of the $1 billion Mars Sustainable in a Generation (SiG) Plan, which outlines a set of far-reaching goals and ambitions underpinned by science and a determination to drive impact throughout the extended supply chain of the entire Mars Corporation. 

Mars, Incorporated will invest approximately $1billion in its Sustainable in a Generation Plan, which has three interconnected ambitions:
• Healthy Planet – to reduce environmental impacts in line with what science says is necessary to keep the planet healthy. It focuses on climate action, water stewardship and land management. 
• Thriving People – to meaningfully improve the working lives of one million people in its value chain to enable them to thrive. It focuses on increasing income, respecting human rights and unlocking opportunities for women. 
• Nourishing Wellbeing – to advance science, innovation and marketing in ways that help billions of people and their pets lead healthier, happier lives. This builds on its current efforts around food safety and security; product and ingredient renovation; and responsible marketing.

The company’s move toward more sustainable rice is the latest in a long line of rice industry innovations led by Mars Food – including the inventions of parboiled and ready-to-heat rice. The company will work over the next few years to sustainably source other rice varieties, including jasmine, wild, and medium and long grain rice.

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About Mars Food
Mars Food is a fast-growing food business, making tastier, healthier, easier meals for all consumers to enjoy. Headquartered in Brussels, Belgium, Mars Food is a leader in producing great tasting products. Our portfolio includes the following brands: UNCLE BEN’S®, DOLMIO®, SEEDS OF CHANGE®, MASTERFOODS®, SUZI WAN®, EBLY®, ROYCO®, KAN TONG® and RARIS®. Our ambition is to become a model business in the areas of health and nutrition and sustainability, as expressed by our Purpose: Better Food Today. A Better World Tomorrow. Mars Food is a segment of Mars, Incorporated.

About Mars, Incorporated
Mars, Incorporated is a private, family-owned business with more than a century of history, $35 billion in sales, and six diverse business segments producing some of the world’s best-loved brands: PEDIGREE®, ROYAL CANIN®, IAMS®, BANFIELD® CESAR® (Petcare); M&M’S®, SNICKERS®, DOVE®, GALAXY®, MARS®, MILKY WAY®, TWIX® (Chocolate); DOUBLEMINT®, EXTRA®, ORBIT®, 5™, SKITTLES® (Wrigley); UNCLE BEN’S®, DOLMIO®, MASTERFOODS®, SEEDS OF CHANGE® (Food); ALTERRA COFFEE ROASTERS™, THE BRIGHT TEA COMPANY™, KLIX® FLAVIA® (Drinks); and COCOAVIA® (Symbioscience). Headquartered in McLean, VA, Mars operates in 421 facilities across 78 countries, where our more than 80,000 Associates —all united by the company’s Five Principles of Quality, Efficiency, Responsibility, Mutuality and Freedom –strive every day to create relationships with our stakeholders that deliver growth we are proud of.

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