Congratulations to The Hershey Company, which announced this week it too will source 100 percent certified cocoa for its global chocolate product lines by 2020. It is gratifying to see more and more stakeholders recognizing the importance of certification to creating a sustainable future for chocolate. The more commitments from companies like Mars Chocolate and Hershey, among others to adopt certification protocols, the better – because it means that more and more cocoa farmers will be reached.
It is these farmers that are so critical to the future of cocoa. At Mars, we are committed to putting farmers first and certification is the best tool we have to reach the 5 to 6 million cocoa farmers at scale around the world. Certification allows these smallholding farmers to have access to the kind of training they need to increase their yields, professionalize their farms, and enhance the quality of their lives. Furthermore, it is another critical element to help address some of the social and economic challenges that cocoa communities face.
We are hopeful that pledges like the ones Hershey made today – and the announcement they made earlier in the year to expand their cocoa sustainability efforts – will lead to similar commitments by other stakeholders at a large scale. In 2009, Mars committed to purchasing 100% of our cocoa from certified sustainable sources – this means that by 2020, all of the cocoa sourced for our Mars Chocolate products will be certified as having been produced in a sustainable manner. We believe that the kind of sweeping commitment that Hershey made today is the right approach for the sector to take.
Ultimately, we know that a coordinated effort by industry, manufacturers, certification organizations, governments – both consuming and producing countries – and civil society is necessary to ensure that certification delivers maximum benefits to farmers. Equally as important, we believe this kind of cooperation will allow us to scale up certification efforts to the point where it is the norm in the global cocoa industry. Today’s announcement by the Hershey Company is another crucial step to reaching this vision for the sector’s future – and we applaud them for it.