Our Farmers First commitment
"To achieve meaningful change, we believe that farmer productivity needs to be the first priority."
As one the world’s leading chocolate manufacturers, our long-term business depends on a sustainable supply of high quality cocoa. As a responsible global company, we are committed to making cocoa a vibrant, environmentally sound industry from farm to factory.
The cocoa supply chain
Demand for cocoa is rising and, unless production is increased, there will not be sufficient supply to meet future global needs. There are a number of reasons for this. Cocoa is a labour-intensive crop grown mostly in developing countries. Farmers struggle with ageing trees, pests and disease, depleted soils and poor access to training and other resources.
As a result, farmers produce small amounts of cocoa, often resulting in subsistence incomes. This makes it difficult for individual farmers to invest in their farms, families and communities in ways that could help raise them out of poverty. The consequence is a decline in production year on year – a situation that benefits no one.
Why productivity comes first
To achieve meaningful change, we believe that farmer productivity needs to be the first priority. By doing this, we can help farmers produce better crops and make more money for their families. Ultimately this will create a sustainable supply of quality cocoa as farmers are empowered to reinvest in their businesses and communities.
This is why the cocoa supply chain is important to Mars. The cocoa supply chain includes everybody who plays a part in producing chocolate. Even when simplified, this is a long list, from local governments to international certification organisations to multi-national manufacturers. To achieve meaningful change, all of these groups must collaborate effectively and prioritise farmer benefit at origin over competitive advantage. By putting farmers first with programs to provide tools and training, Mars is helping to strengthen the entire supply chain and move towards a more sustainable cocoa economy.
Historically cocoa has not benefited from large-scale investment in research, but we are working to change this. Mars is leading extensive research programs into plant breeding, pest and disease control, quality improvement and good farming practices.
We share our learning with farmers through our Cocoa Development Centres and Village Cocoa Centres by showing best practice in action. These centres also conduct applied research that takes our understanding out of the laboratory and into the field, and the findings are fed back into our research programs.
The cocoa supply chain is not solely about the journey the beans take from farm to consumer. There are a number of organisations that are not part of the physical production process, but still play important roles.
Among these partners are non-governmental organisations (NGOs) that train farmers and help them to organise themselves more effectively. Other NGOs offer education, literacy and health programs. Our certification partners provide a set of standards for best farming practice, cocoa quality, pricing and environmental stewardship and work to make sure that these are met.
In addition, organisations such as the World Cocoa Foundation, International Cocoa Organization and Cocoa Producers Alliance have an important role in creating and encouraging partnerships. They allow exporters, processors, manufacturers and cocoa-producing countries to work together to ensure that everybody does their part to the support the industry as a whole.
Partnerships have been behind breakthroughs in cocoa research. For example, the mapping of the cocoa genome was a collaboration between government agencies, academic institutes and private companies.