Creating a sustainable cocoa industry for farmers will require billions in investments

Today, Mars Inc. released its 2nd annual Principles in Action summary, which details the company’s approach to business and Mar’s commitment to put its Five Principles into action.  As part of the summary, we are highlighting our Sustainable Cocoa Initiative.

As readers of this blog know, creating a sustainable cocoa sector that can meet the chocolate industry’s long-term demand for cocoa, the essential raw material for chocolate, while providing economic opportunities to cocoa farmers will require billions of dollars in agricultural investments across research, third-party certification and technology transfer to farmers.

Although many groups and individual companies have made singular investments towards a more sustainable sector, to benefit a significant portion of the world’s five to six million cocoa farmers, we believe the industry must work together even more closely to scale up positive impacts for farmers and achieve higher yields without compromising limited natural resources.

That’s why we’re announcing that we invested $30 million in cocoa sustainability efforts in 2011, after spending more than $20 million annually in the previous two years. We will likely match 2011’s investment each year during the next decade, but even more important, we are also calling for an expansion of previous, smaller scale programs and a renewed focus on farmer benefit as the industry’s chief priority.

We believe that the best approach to cocoa sustainability is to partner with our industry peers, governments, certification organizations and NGOs for the common good. We can see that the industry is taking this challenge very seriously, as there is a lot of good work already happening, but we strongly believe that all of these efforts can be combined as part of a sector-wide effort to achieve the results we all want to see.

For instance, our Vision for Change initiative will help farmers in Côte d’Ivoire learn updated agricultural methods to strengthen their communities and to increase their productivity, which, in turn, will enhance their economic opportunities.  The program is also pre-competitive, which means that the entire industry can benefit from the efforts we are making there.  We are eager and willing to work with others in the industry who are pursuing sustainability initiatives.

Take a few moments to read some of the blog posts here that describe some of the Sustainable Cocoa Initiative’s projects in more detail[add links].  Additionally, you may want to spend some time reading the Principles in Action summary or looking through the photo slideshow below about the Sustainable Cocoa Initiative.  We appreciate all of the hard work that everyone in the industry is doing to make sustainable cocoa a reality and we’re looking forward to the next exciting developments!


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