Mars Meets our 2011 Certification Goal

As you may have seen, we announced today that Mars Chocolate met its 2011 benchmark of purchasing 10 percent certified sustainable cocoa – or approximately  30,000 tons – as part of its total supply.  In two short years, we have made dramatic progress towards reaching our ultimate goal of purchasing 100% of our cocoa from certified sustainable sources by 2020.

Mars Chocolate has set an ambitious aim to re-double certified cocoa purchases to 20% in 2012.  Based on current buying arrangements, the company expects to exceed this goal, projecting that they will purchase nearly 90,000 tons of certified cocoa to make Mars the largest user of certified cocoa in the world.  What does purchasing 90,000 tons of certified sustainable cocoa mean? It means buying cocoa—equivalent of the weight of 160 Airbus A380s—that we know has been grown and harvested in line with important environmental and labor standards by farmers who have been provided additional training to help them achieve greater yield and income from their farms.

In 2011, Mars’s cocoa purchases were certified according to Rainforest Alliance’s and UTZ Certified’s standards. Last year, Mars announced it will be partnering with FairTrade International, and purchases of FairTrade cocoa began in 2012.  Currently, six Mars products worldwide are labeled through the Rainforest Alliance and UTZ Certified. Since the company’s primary goal is to reach 100% certification by 2020 and encourage more industry commitments to buy larger volumes of certified cocoa, Mars will purchase certified cocoa for all products by 2020, even though some products may not be explicitly labeled.

As followers of the Sustainable Cocoa Initiative and this blog already know, we estimate that demand for cocoa will outstrip supply by one million tons by 2020 and so we’ve developed a comprehensive strategy to address this sector challenge under the guiding principle of putting cocoa farmers first.  Our initiative is one of the largest and far-reaching efforts within the cocoa industry to support increased productivity, strengthen communities, and encourage better farmer incomes.

We are focusing on three distinct, critical elements with the Sustainable Cocoa Initiative: cocoa science research, including mapping the cocoa genome in conjunction with IBM and the U.S. Department of Agriculture; the transfer of technology and other agricultural methods to encourage productivity among cocoa farmers, especially through the company’s Vision for Change program in Cote d’Ivoire; and third-party certification.  Mars Chocolate is the only large global chocolate manufacturer to work with the three leading certification organizations, the Rainforest Alliance, Fairtrade International, and UTZ Certified.

Certification has great potential to benefit hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of cocoa farmers.  However, to be truly meaningful, certification must bring industry together to prioritize real change at the farm level ahead of all other interests. We are truly grateful to our certification partners Rainforest Alliance, UTZ Certified, and Fairtrade International for sharing this vision and for the commitments they have made to putting cocoa farmers first.  Stay tuned for more about our certification efforts because we’ll have more to report in 2012.

For more information on our certification efforts, please download our certification fact sheet: MARS_Certification_One_Pager

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