Mars Chocolate supports the cocoa sector’s most ambitious and comprehensive plan to work together to rejuvenate and sustain the cocoa economy, the company announced today. Called “CocoaAction” and created under the auspices of the World Cocoa Foundation (WCF), the strategy is focused on specific, collaborative measures to increase productivity and support community development for no fewer than 300,000 West African farmers by 2020. To accomplish this, the WCF has secured voluntary industry commitments that, for the first time, will align private sector efforts on a non-competitive basis to ensure the cocoa production system in West Africa is developed at scale. The strategy will first be implemented for farmers in Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana, whose governments have formally endorsed the plan, and will later be extended to other cocoa producing countries.
“CocoaAction is the most promising development in the cocoa sector to address the serious circumstances facing cocoa production today,” said Barry Parkin, Chief Sustainability Officer, Mars, Incorporated and Chairmen, Board of Directors, for WCF. “Mars and several others have long recognized the need for uncommon collaboration to create greater sustainability in the cocoa sector. The industry knows that the most effective cocoa sustainability efforts are those that deliver resources and solutions directly to the farmers. CocoaAction shares that priority. It represents a monumental collaboration between public and private stakeholders, and we are committed to working diligently within WCF as we move to the implementation phase.”
CocoaAction was formally endorsed at signing ceremonies in Abidjan and Accra on May 20th and May 22nd, respectively, between the WCF and the governments of Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire. CocoaAction will be recognized by those governments as the industry’s formal contribution to national sustainability plans underway in those countries.
“We believe this sector-wide alignment of objectives, commitment of resources, and sharing of best practices is exactly the type of transformative initiative the sector requires and we are happy to join our industry colleagues in supporting this effort,” said Andrew Harner, Mars’ Global Cocoa Vice President.
In 2009, Mars committed to buying 100 percent certified sustainable cocoa by 2020 and continues to make major investments in cocoa research and technology transfer to farmers while also advocating for greater industry collaboration.
“Mars fully supports WCF and CocoaAction because we have long believed that putting farmers first and helping them to become more productive requires an industry-wide effort to have sustainable cocoa,” said Harner. “We congratulate each of the companies in this collaboration and pledge our experience, expertise and support for the betterment of cocoa farmers and the chocolate industry.”
CocoaAction is currently made possible through the resources of WCF’s Board of Directors. However, as the strategy progresses and expands, WCF will be looking to recruit more companies and strategic partners to the effort.