Mars, Incorporated achieves milestone towards goal of sustainable cocoa
Committed to focusing on farmers first
McLean, VA -- Mars, Incorporated today announces another major milestone in its goal to use sustainably grown cocoa. Mars commits to purchase 100,000 tonnes of UTZ CERTIFIED cocoa annually by 2020. This week Mars contracted its first UTZ cocoa beans. With this small but significant step towards sourcing sustainable cocoa that will be harvested later this year, Mars is making a clear statement to cocoa farmers that there is a market for UTZ CERTIFIED cocoa beans now and well into the future.
This commitment comes on the heels of an earlier announcement in April, in which Mars stated its intention to use sustainably grown cocoa in all of its chocolate by the year 2020, an aggressive goal. Mars believes that certification can make a difference because farmers receive the training and support they need to improve their productivity and run more profitable cocoa farms. While Mars has supported farmers and the sustainable development of the cocoa crop for many years, it is focusing even more attention on putting farmers first – meaning that investments and resources will be put into working with certifying partners, cocoa farming communities, cocoa sector governments and national institutes to effect real change in the sustainable farming practices and certified cocoa.
Grant Reid, president, Mars Global Chocolate says: “We are proud to be leading the way with our commitment to certification by putting farmers first. Our vision is a sustainable cocoa industry where farmers, their families and communities benefit and nature is conserved. We invite the entire cocoa industry to work towards the broad adoption of sustainable cocoa farming practices, which will interest farmers in voluntarily certifying their sustainably grown cocoa.”
Juliette Caulkins, interim executive director, UTZ CERTIFIED says: “UTZ CERTIFIED stands for improvement; achieving long term economic viability for both producers and markets through professional and cost effective production and care for people and the environment. This commitment by one of the cocoa program founding members, Mars, is just the type of signal we want to send farmers, showing that businesses will invest in and purchase sustainable cocoa.” The UTZ cocoa program consists of members from the cocoa industry and NGOs such as Solidaridad, Oxfam Novib and WWF International.
Mars has been a global leader in cocoa sustainability for over 30 years and invests many millions of dollars each year in initiatives addressing the environmental, economic and social aspects of the cocoa supply chain. The principles by which Mars has always operated inspire the company to seek the most responsible methods of cocoa production, whereby the entire supply chain shares mutual benefit from the growth and processing of this unique and fragile crop. In certification, Mars collaborates with a number of partners and seeks to work with the governments of the countries where cocoa is grown to be sure that all farmers in the country benefit.
Nico Roozen, director of development organization Solidaridad welcomes Mars announcement: “As one of the founders of UTZ CERTIFIED, we started a cocoa producer support program to improve the livelihoods of cocoa farmers and fight poverty. Through investments in agriculture and the farming communities, we support sustainable cocoa production. Importantly, our producer support program trains farmers in productivity and quality improvements, which helps them to improve economic, social and environmental conditions in accordance with the UTZ CERTIFIED code of conduct.”
As the global leader in cocoa science, Mars has invested in research on plant biology, agriculture and processing. Howard-Yana Shapiro, global director of plant science and external research, Mars, Incorporated comments: “We address cocoa sustainability at every stage from the laboratory to training the farmer. At Mars we believe in developing long term solutions and working together with the cocoa farming communities and cocoa sector governments to effect real change.”
By investing in farmers first, Mars decided that it is of critical importance to develop this sustainable foundation which ultimately will help all cocoa buyers looking for sustainably grown cocoa. This is similar to the gesture Mars is making in its project to sequence and analyze the entire cocoa genome. Mars will share the genome information with the industry. Unlocking the genome will enable farmers to plant better cocoa varieties and create healthier, stronger cocoa crops with increased yields, pest and disease resistance, and improved water and nutrient-use efficiency.
In April, Mars also committed to purchase 100,000 tonnes of cocoa from Rainforest Alliance certified cocoa farms. To meet its total cocoa needs, Mars will continue to work with certifying organizations like UTZ CERTIFIED and the Rainforest Alliance to achieve the 2020 goal of using certified, sustainably grown cocoa.
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