Mars Wrigley furthers sustainability work with release of interactive cocoa farm maps

Mars Wrigley has released a key update on its progress for sustainably sourcing cocoa from key markets, including a major move digitally mapping an increasing number of its farming suppliers from across 13 countries, reports Neill Barston

As the company explained, since the launch of its major Cocoa for Generations scheme in 2018, it has accelerated its range of measures including systems put in place to protecting children, preserve forests and improving farmer income as part of its Responsible Cocoa programme, clearly identifying over 350,000 farms worldwide.

From its latest results, around a third of its farms (at smallholder level), have now been fully traced, which the business said it is working hard to further increase over the next few years.

Presently, the bulk of its supplies are from Ghana and the Ivory Coast, but it also sources from, Colombia (pictured), Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Ghana, Indonesia, Nigeria, Papua New Guinea, Peru, Philippines and Vietnam.

Reporting on its mapping venture – which it acknowledged was critical to its goal of sourcing from the farmer to the first point of purchase (the farmer organisation, cooperative, or licensed buying company its suppliers buy from) by 2025, the company said that notable strides had been made in enhancing its sourcing transparency.

The company acknowledged that halting deforestation is an important component to the health and well-being of people and the planet. Forests provide habitat for half of all known plant and animal species, regulate local rainfall patterns and provide livelihoods for millions of people, including cocoa farmers, their families and communities. In addition, the clearing of primary forest cover can increase greenhouse gas emissions.

Consequently, Mars Wrigley confirmed it has invested in research and other interventions to help farmers grow more cocoa on existing farmland without encroaching on forests, which it said underlined the importance of full traceability in supply chains.

In 2019, for the first time, the company reported how much of the cocoa it sourced was traceable to a country of origin, to a farmer group within that country, and to the individual farms supplying that farmer group. For full transparency, it also published a list of the tier-1 suppliers it sources cocoa from.

Tracing farms

As part of its Responsible Cocoa programme, the business said it expected its suppliers to go above and beyond providing a typical, single Global Positioning System (GPS) point on a map. GPS polygons allow tracing of the entire boundary of each farm to verify the cocoa bought is grown within those boundaries and not in any nearby protected forests.

Mars noted it was a considerable task to accurately map over 350,000 farm plots in 13 countries, often in places with no roads, formal property boundaries or on-line land records. However, the business said it was worth the effort because tracing the farm boundary in addition to the GPS position gives it a better view of where the farm is and how close it could be to a protected forest. We can then use the boundary map alongside risk assessments and the country’s deforestation action plans to guide any further actions.

By the end of 2019, a third of the company’s supply chain farms had been mapped:

Responsible Cocoa Program Progress Dec 31st, 2018 Dec 31st, 2019
Traceable to a country of origin via our Tier 1 direct suppliers 1 95% 95%
Traceable to Tier 2 – farmer group 2 40% 51%
Traceable to Tier 3 – farm level 3 24% 33%

Global Cocoa Vice President at Mars Wrigley, John Ament, said: “Sharing where and who we source our cocoa from gives consumers, customers, governments and other stakeholders as well as our Associates the confidence we are tracking where our cocoa comes from and the conditions under which it is grown. By doing so, our chocolate products continue to live up to our Mars Wrigley Purpose to Create Better Moments To Make The World Smile.”

“We are proud of our progress, but it doesn’t stop here. In collaboration with our tier-1 suppliers, we are now for the first time publicly sharing an interactive map showing the names, locations and total number of farmers in each farmer group from which we sourced cocoa in the 2018/2019 crop year as part of our Responsible Cocoa program. We will update this regularly as we advance toward our goal of a 100% deforestation-free supply chain for cocoa we source by 2025.”

 

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