Mars, Mondelez and Olam progress industry task force on climate change
pic: Mars Wrigley
As the Cop27 environmental event continues, Mars, Incorporated has joined forces with fellow major businesses including Mondelez and Olam, in a bid to drive urgent impact on climate change, reports Neill Barston.
The US-headquartered food company – which maintains extensive confectionery interests, has rolled-out an action plan to scale ‘regenerative farming’ globally, based on driving sustainability measures including tackling biodiversity loss – a key issue stemming from deforestation linked to industries including the cocoa trade.
Chaired by Outgoing Mars CEO Grant Reid, the Task Force, which was initially formed last year, has stated that it is united by a common ambition to enable regenerative farming to become mainstream, and includes groups such as Bayer, HowGood, Indigo Agriculture, Mars, McCain Foods, McDonald’s, Mondelez, Olam, PepsiCo, Sustainable Food Trust, Waitrose & Partners and Yara International.
Consequently, the group’s report, “Scaling Regenerative Farming: an action pla,n” warns that adoption rates are currently lagging far behind the rate needed to effectively tackle climate change.
Fresh analysis by Systemiq has revealed that regenerative farming – while expanding its footprint over recent years – must triple its rate of growth to deliver against the world’s need to limit climate change to 1.5 degrees. It needs to make up at least 40% of global cropland by 2030, up from around 15% today.
The Task Force calls for common metrics and market-based financial incentives for environmental outcomes, targeted government policy and an overhaul of food sourcing – all to make regenerative agriculture a ‘no brainer’ business decision for farmers.
Notably, the newly formed group, which is tabling its concerns at the COP27 meeting in Sharm El Sheik, Egypt, aims to continue its work into 2023 relating to its report’s Big 5 recommendations.
Grant Reid said: “These are unprecedented times with supply chains under enormous pressure and the impacts of climate change all too real. Regenerative farming is a critical part of the solution, and our report shows all too clearly that – despite pockets of great work – adoption rates are far too slow as the short-term economic case for change is not compelling enough for farmers.
“As an industry, we need to address these areas with urgency if we are to hit our net zero commitments and protect against future supply-chain disruption.”
As the company noted, Investing in climate smart and regenerative agriculture is an important part of Mars’ ambitions to achieve net zero greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions across its full value chain by 2050, while also doing its part to protect soil health and productivity.
With raw materials accounting for around 70% of the business’ emissions, scaling up climate smart and regenerative agriculture, in addition to preventing deforestation and land-use change, will be vital in its work to meaningfully reduce emissions.
Regenerative farming is an approach that aims to build soil health and fertility, sequester carbon and reduce emissions, enhance watershed quality and increase biodiversity while also improving farmer livelihoods and resilience.
The Task Force focused its work on three specific value chains (wheat in the U.S., basmati rice in India and potatoes in the U.K.) with a view to identifying learnings that could be scaled to other crops and geographies with similar characteristics.
It details five key areas which it believes require urgent action to make the economics of regenerative farming more appealing to farmers. This includes agreeing common metrics for environmental outcomes, building farmers’ income from carbon reduction and removal, and ensuring that government policy enables and rewards farmers for transition.