The folks at The Hershey Company are taking a step in the right direction with their announcement today that they are expanding their cocoa programs. The company announced that they will be working with The Rainforest Alliance, who is one of Mars Chocolate’s certifying partners as well.
Why is this news important? Because it means that more farmers will benefit from certification, which will improve … Read more
As a scientist, I’m interested in how new discoveries and knowledge can make life better for people, and this made me jump at the opportunity to join Mars as the new Global Chocolate Director of Cacao Plant science. One of the pillars of our cocoa sustainability strategy is improved scientific research on the cocoa plant and how it’s cultivated. With a better understanding of how … Read more
Having just returned from a trip to Cote d’Ivoire to check in on our sustainability efforts there, I’m struck by the difference from my last visit. I was last in Cote d’Ivoire in 2010 when we signed the Memorandum of Understanding (click MoU to read the memorandum and here to watch the ceremony), just before a period of great political uncertainty. Cote d’Ivoire is one … Read more
We announced our intention to map the cocoa genome in 2008 and were very excited to finish the project almost 3 years ahead of schedule. We received many positive reactions, and hundreds of researchers have now downloaded our open-sourced genome dataset from www.cacaogenomedb.org. The genome is now public property, and we have registered it so that no part of the sequence can … Read more
Bright waves of orange and black broke the green landscape on this sunny day in Tani Madiri Village. I had arrived just in time for the ceremony and celebration called “Commitment for the Future,” and had a front row seat. Eight teens – four gals and four guys – were performing at traditional harvest dance as the community was opening … Read more
Performers at the Africa Fairtrade Convention
Efforts to increase collaboration between cocoa producers, international traders, partner organizations and policy makers took a major step forward during the second annual Africa Fairtrade Conventionin Accra, Ghana on November 23rd through 26th. The convention, which has grown substantially in just a year under the leadership of Fairtrade Africa Chairman Yorokamu Abainenamar and Executive Director … Read more
As many of us know, millions of small scale farmers in West Africa, Latin America and Southeast Asia depend on cocoa for their household incomes and livelihoods. But is there a link between cocoa farming and food security? In our opinion, the answer is “yes” for several reasons.
First, as a perennial tree crop, good cocoa cultivation fosters crop diversity and the integration of other … Read more
Last Thursday, SustainAbility published a study to consider the future of certification systems. The study, Signed, Sealed, Delivered, was supported by Mars (along with many other companies) and found:
[…] there is a need to deconstruct and evolve the old model that combines standards, certification and on-pack marks. Instead we urge a shift towards a new model based upon increasingly demanding and pre-competitive standards … Read more
With cocoa demand up, yields down and a shortage of new land to farm, cocoa research is critical to improving African, Asian and S. American cocoa farmer livelihoods through higher-quality and more productive crops.
My team and I recently participated in and helped fund a significant global research initiative that spanned multiple continents. The effort involved a dozen participating countries, industry leaders like us, international … Read more
One of the more intractable issues facing Mars and the entire cocoa industry is children on cocoa farms performing dangerous tasks or working instead of attending school. This is a high-profile issue that concerns social advocates and governments as well as customers and consumers. We share these concerns, and we don’t believe that the worst forms of child labor have any place in the sustainable … Read more