Mars and Fairtrade extend partnership to certify cocoa for MARS® Bars

The iconic chocolate brand partners with Fairtrade to boost cocoa sustainability and further support farmers

  • Mars Chocolate UK and Fairtrade Foundation extend partnership to source Fairtrade certified cocoa for MARS® Bars in UK and Ireland
  • Mars is the first UK company to commit to Fairtrade’s new Cocoa Sourcing Programme, building on Mars’ ongoing commitment to certify its entire cocoa supply as being produced in a sustainable manner by 2020
  • Mars is initiating an innovative new approach with Fairtrade cocoa cooperatives in Cote d’Ivoire enabling farmers to boost sustainable production and cocoa yields and improve local livelihoods
  • Building on the Fairtrade certification of MALTESERS® in 2012, this takes total Fairtrade premiums paid by Mars globally to cocoa cooperatives in West Africa to over US$2m per year by 2016

Mars Chocolate UK and The Fairtrade Foundation announced today that they are extending their global cocoa partnership with a commitment to source Fairtrade certified cocoa for all MARS® Bars in the UK and Ireland by autumn 2015.

Mars is the first UK company to announce a commitment under the new Fairtrade Cocoa Sourcing Programme, which specifically aims to deliver more opportunities for cocoa farmers to sell on Fairtrade terms and connect them with businesses that actively support efforts to improve farmer livelihoods.

In 2009, Mars was the first global chocolate company to commit to certify its entire cocoa supply as being produced in a sustainable manner by 2020. In the UK, this new commitment from the MARS® Bar brand builds on the success of Mars’ partnership with Fairtrade on MALTESERS®, announced in 2011 and the Fairtrade Cocoa Sourcing programme model which was launched in partnership with Mars Chocolate Germany and the TWIX® brand in 2014. It will take the total premiums paid by Mars globally to Fairtrade cocoa cooperatives in West Africa to over US$2m per year by 2016.

Mars is guided by its principle of Mutuality, creating ‘mutual benefits’ for partners throughout the supply chain and this extended partnership between Mars and Fairtrade is rooted in a shared belief in putting farmers first. It is an innovative new approach working hand-in-hand with cocoa cooperatives in Cote d’Ivoire, through which farmers themselves will be empowered both financially and with expert support. It will see Fairtrade cooperatives investing certification premiums in a full productivity package, including training, fertilisers and improved high yielding and disease resistant crops, enabling Fairtrade farmers to dramatically increase their yields and incomes helping to enhance local livelihoods. An initial project with one of the cooperative groups supplying the cocoa for MARS® Bars will begin in 2015 and Mars and Fairtrade International have made a joint pledge to extend the programme to more West African cocoa cooperatives covering Mars’ existing Fairtrade cocoa volumes over the coming years.

MARS® Bars that source Fairtrade certified cocoa will appear in stores from October 2015 in the UK and Ireland.

Speaking about the commitment, Blas Maquivar, President, Mars Chocolate UK, said:

“I’m really proud that our iconic MARS® Bar brand is at the forefront of Fairtrade’s new Cocoa Sourcing Programme. It’s a crucial next step in our global commitment to certify that 100 percent of our cocoa has been produced in a sustainable manner by 2020 and it means that all three of our top UK chocolate brands now source certified cocoa, supporting farmers to improve productivity and yields and ultimately leading to improved income and better quality of life for farmers, their families and their communities.

“This partnership brings us one step closer to sustainable, ethically sourced cocoa becoming the norm in the chocolate industry.”

Mike Gidney, Chief Executive of The Fairtrade Foundation, said:

“What a great kick off for Fairtrade Fortnight 2015! We’re entering a new era in Fairtrade’s work with cocoa farmers in West Africa, increasingly connecting forward-looking businesses like Mars more directly to entrepreneurial cocoa cooperatives who themselves want to be at the forefront of product quality, productivity and rural community improvement.  Cocoa farmers constantly tell us they’re anxious to sell more of their crops on Fairtrade terms, and we know how it can start to change their lives when they receive fairer rewards for their efforts. That’s why we launched the Fairtrade Cocoa Sourcing Programme, and to have Mars leading the way is fantastic news, both here in the UK and on the ground with cocoa cooperatives in Cote d’Ivoire.”


Mars launched its Sustainable Cocoa Initiative in 2009, focusing on three critical elements: cocoa science research, including mapping the cocoa genome in conjunction with IBM and the U.S. Department of Agriculture and releasing the genome into the public domain; transferring technology and agricultural methods to cocoa farmers to increase their productivity through the Vision for Change initiative in Côte d’Ivoire; and working to promote certified sustainable practices.  Through Vision for Change, Mars anticipates reaching 150,000 farmers in Côte d’Ivoire.  Mars Chocolate was the first company to commit to purchasing 100 percent of its cocoa supply from certified sources by 2020.

After spending more than $20 million annually in both 2009 and 2010, Mars Chocolate has invested $30 million in cocoa sustainability investments annually since 2011, and plans to continue to match that investment throughout the rest of the decade. Mars is a founding member of the CocoaAction industry effort and our Chief Sustainability Officer, Barry Parkin, chairs the World Cocoa Foundation.  Mars is committed to working with the industry to ensuring the future of cocoa and is happy to see progress being made toward ensuring the sustainability of cocoa.

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