We’re happy to announce that Mars Chocolate and The Sustainable Trade Initiative (IDH) recently signed a Memorandum of Understanding, marking a strategic collaboration between two major frontrunners in the push for meaningful transformation of the cocoa sector.
Mars, along with industry leaders such as Kraft, Nestle, ADM and other partners in the IDH cocoa program are important players and have set ambitious goals for the purchase of certified cocoa over the next decade.
Mars provides a unique opportunity for IDH to further formalize a partnership with a major chocolate manufacturer that has a strong commitment to local farmers on the ground. IDH will provide Mars with essential support for programs and continued innovations.
To that end, the collaboration will be focused on the critical aspects of the production process at all stages, including particular emphasis on increasing farmers’ income through productivity enhancement, embedding sustainability in cocoa producing countries through the development of highly skilled extension services, and the expanded promotion of Cocoa Development and Cocoa Village Centers.
Such measures will come in addition to the ongoing programs that both organizations currently have in place, including IDH’s Cocoa Productivity and Quality Program (CPQP), which is designed to increase the income of 300,000 smallholder cocoa farmers with quality, sustainable cocoa production, together with major partners in the cocoa industry, including civil society and local government in producing countries. The power of pre-competitive coalitions is a major strength of IDH’s work and this partnership is a logical outcome of this coalition.
Improving technology and cocoa production is another important underlying unifier between Mars and IDH, as these initiatives reflect an understanding that the only viable means of achieving sustainability is through increased productivity and quality. Specifically, as outlined as part of the CPQP, ideal farm level yields would be enhanced to an average of 1000 kilograms per harvest by training farmers in cocoa agricultural best practices. In addition, CPQP will help to provide additional financing mechanisms and other business tools for farmers.
Having the programs in place— including additional steps yet to come— is critical to laying the essential groundwork for a long term vision by which sustainable cocoa will become the new standard of production around the world.