Mars moves to further champion key Living Income Differential cocoa scheme

Cocoa drying in Ghana (pic Tony's Chocolonely)

Mars Wrigley has moved to champion the Living Differential payments to cocoa farmers – amounting to $400 a tonne, stating that everyone in the supply chain should thrive, writes Neill Barston.

The company, which was the first to publicly back the scheme established by the Ghana and Ivory Coast governments last October, believes it has a significant role to play in the sector.

However, despite the company’s notable efforts, suppressed cocoa prices in Ivory Coast in particular (which has seen authorities cut the farmgate price of cocoa cut by 25% last month, has seen the new scheme’s potential benefit wiped out in the company by falling commodity prices for crops.

The situation remains uneven though, with Ghana’s government continuing with its established farmgate prices, meaning that farmers will in fact stand to benefit from the LID scheme as envisaged.

The company said: “Through our Cocoa for Generations strategy, ongoing support for the LID, and disclosure of our progress publicly, we remain focused on the critical issues that need to be addressed for cocoa farming families to thrive and be sustainable – most urgently, through support of the LID and supply chain transparency.

“In our Cocoa for Generations Report, Human Rights Report, and Cocoa and Forests Initiative 2020 annual report, we provide an update on our supply chain transparency efforts which show that we’re making significant strides. In addition,

“Despite the overall category decline, we have not seen a material change in what we source from Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana based on the data provided by our suppliers. In fact, the cocoa we are sourcing through our Responsible Cocoa program in those countries has grown to over 165,000 MT for the 20/21 crop season, supporting cocoa farmers with payments for the LID in excess of $65M.”

The company added that for the 2020/21 crop season, the business had agreed with suppliers who implement our Responsible Cocoa program in Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana to pay approximately $8.5 million in additional cash premiums for farmers in Responsible Cocoa groups.
In addition the business also distributed over 1.2 million cocoa plants to farmers in Ghana and over 913,000 non-cocoa trees to farmers in Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana in 2020. It doubled the Village Savings and Loans Associations (VSLA) program membership in 2020 to more than 24,000 members to empower women socially and economically, and are committing $10 million to CARE to increase membership to more than 60,000 by 2025.

Furthermore, the business donated US$5 million to CARE for Covid relief, with US$2.6 million going to provide critical supplies and expertise to women, children, and refugee populations in Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana.

The company added: “Since its inception, we have championed our support of the LID with suppliers, chocolate manufacturers, and retailers, pushing for financial transparency of its full payment to farmers and control of supply to prevent cocoa from moving into protected areas. Most recently we have engaged in the current bilateral trade discussions between the EU and the governments of Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire on sustainable cocoa, and will continue to be vocal in calling on others to do the same, particularly in the context of Covid.

Our aim is to have 100% of our cocoa responsibly sourced and traceable by 2025 – knowing where the cocoa we source comes from and the way it has been sourced promotes real, lasting positive change, putting farmers and their communities first. To make that ambition a reality, we will continue to push for a levelled playing field through appropriate legislation, standards and industry coalitions so that other companies will do the same.

“For cocoa farmers to thrive we encourage all buyers of cocoa products and chocolate manufacturers to support the LID, invest in sustainability programs to protect children and forests, and purchase responsible and sustainable cocoa. This will only work if the entire cocoa value chain leans in and plays a part.”

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