When the London M&MS® World store hosted a champion Ghanaian cocoa farmer, both ends of the supply chain met for a successful connection.
Samuel Awuni stood in the middle of London’s M&M’S® World store—nearly 4,200 miles from the fields of his Ghana cocoa farm—in complete awe. Surrounded by shoppers reveling in five stories of brightly colored candies and merchandise, Samuel had never seen chocolate like this before. And London’s M&M’S World store—the newest and largest in the world—had never hosted such an esteemed guest.
Samuel is the 2011 Champion Ghana Farmer, recognized by the Ghana Cocoa Board as the country’s best cocoa farmer, in terms of both quality and quantity. His grand prize included a two week trip to the UK to visit agricultural shows, tourist attractions, traders of Ghana cocoa beans and, of course, chocolate manufacturers. “Given our interest and deep care for cocoa farmers, it was a great pleasure for Mars to accept the Ghana Cocoa Board’s invitation to host their champion cocoa farmer,” said Martin Gilmour, Cocoa Sustainability – Research Manager.
One of the underlying principles of the Mars Cocoa Sustainability Program is “Farmers First,” meaning that although there are many stakeholders along the cocoa supply chain, the beginning of the chain is in the hands of vitally important smallholder farmers. The goal of Farmers First is to make sure farmers have highly productive cocoa farms, produce quality beans and earn a good living for themselves in thriving communities.
London’s M&M’S® World store had opened just prior to Samuel’s trip, so a visit to the store—for Samuel and the Ghana Cocoa Board delegation accompanying him—offered a perfect (and fun!) opportunity to link both ends of the supply chain. The store tour, organized and hosted by Mars Associates Arabella Smith and Gareth Davies-Marriott—was a huge success. “Everyone was overwhelmed with M&M’S® World. The store was full of shoppers and tourists…it was a great feeling to be able to show a farmer what happens to his cocoa and how many people enjoy it,” said Gilmour. “We all got caught up in the colorful, exciting world of M&M’S® and spent a long time watching people fill bags of their favorite colors. Arabella and Gareth even presented our guests with M&M’S champagne bottles filled with the national colors of Ghana—a fantastic touch!”
But the Ghana group took home more than chocolate candies. “We gave them a lasting impression; they saw how committed Mars is to cocoa sustainability and cocoa farmers,” Gilmour said. “We gave them an exciting experience, showed them the retail world of chocolate at its biggest and best, and reminded them that we really do believe in Farmers First.”