Mars reveals progress on its Cocoa For Generations billion-dollar cocoa sustainability plans

US-based Mars Wrigley has released its 2020 Cocoa for Generations report, updating progress on its $1 billion investment over a decade on its drive to ensure 100% sustainability for its cocoa sourcing in key markets of Ghana and Ivory Coast, reports Neill Barston

The business, which is behind brands including Dove, M&M’s, Maltesers and Snickers, has set itself a target of 2025 for its goal of improving lives of farming communities in West Africa that form a major part of its supply chains.

Among the key areas of progress confirmed in its latest report, titled Reshaping the future of cocoa, child protection features heavily, with 51% percent of the total volumes of cocoa it sourced from at-risk areas in Ivory Coast and Ghana came from farmer groups with Child Labour Monitoring and Remediation Systems in place. This  represents an increase in households monitored by 79% year-on-year, reaching an estimated total of 34,000 homes.

However, despite notable progress being made on the issue, it comes in the wake of the major US study from NORC at the University of Chicago, which last month revealed that there remained a total of 1.56 million children found to be in child labour within the two West African nations, as the issue remains bound to wider issues of poverty and urgent need for roll-out of human rights due diligence which campaigners have continued to press for.

Other areas of covered by the new Mars study include a focus on preserving forests, which has seen the company build on its commitment to cocoa supply chain transparency, with the business releasing its Tier 1 supplier disclosure followed by its Tier 2 farmer group disclosure accompanied by an interactive map.

Significantly, the report also hones in on its other key area of improving farmer income. As Confectionery Production has previously reported, Mars was among the first chocolate company to publicly support the Living Income Differential (LID) presently being delivered by the governments of Ghana and Ivory Coast. The company said it encouraged other businesses to do the same, adding that it continues to work on solutions to bring about further improve farmers’ finances.

Andrew Clarke, Mars Wrigley Global President said: “Today we recognise the progress we’ve made on our goals of increasing cocoa farmer income, protecting children, supporting women’s social and economic empowerment, and tackling deforestation. While some in the industry are accelerating with us, collectively we must go further and faster to reshape the cocoa sector. We’re calling for robust public-private collaborations so that human rights are respected, and the environment is protected, as we create a modern, inclusive and sustainable cocoa supply for the next generations to thrive.”

Furthermore, as the company noted, its report details significant achievements to date, which include its Covid-19 response, the launch of its Protecting Children Action Plan detailing its approach to protecting children in cocoa-growing communities, the release of its Tier 2 cocoa farmer group disclosure and interactive map, and its efforts to halt deforestation in Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana as part of the Cocoa & Forests Initiative.

Launched in 2018 and backed by past learnings and a US$1 billion investment, Cocoa for Generations has two pillars: Responsible Cocoa Today which focuses on cocoa being responsibly sourced and traceable by 2025, and Sustainable Cocoa Tomorrow which focuses on long-term scaling up of programs and collaborations shown to help improve productivity, diversify incomes and empower women and communities. Both are essential to Mars Wrigley’s treating and snacking business and the iconic and beloved chocolate brands that bring better moments and smiles across the world.

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