The taste and texture of a particular chocolate product depend on the manufacturer's recipe, a closely guarded secret. The manufacturer uses different types and proportions of cocoa liquor, cocoa butter and other ingredients, such as milk and sugar, to specially tailor chocolate to their brands. The finished chocolate product is then packaged and sent to distributors ready to be enjoyed.
While it is your choice as a consumer that determines demand throughout the cocoa market, it is the manufacturer that meets this demand directly and so sets standards that affect the whole supply chain. Having such an influential role means manufacturers have a duty to ensure that the supply chain supporting their products operates in a responsible and sustainable way. As the most visible part of the supply chain, they can make commitments that will set a precedent for the processors and exporters with which they work. If manufacturers are not willing to take the lead, the process of change will take longer and be more complicated as those outside the industry try to understand its challenges and develop appropriate solutions.
Although they cannot have direct relationships with every individual farmer, by choosing to use certified cocoa in their products, manufacturers can enable industry-wide improvements in productivity, incomes and sustainability. On top of this, by putting the wellbeing of the industry and of struggling farmers ahead of their own competitive advantage in developed markets, they can support significant change.
This is why Mars has played a key role in the industry on sustainability, and in 2011 alone spent more than $30 million on cocoa sustainability, including certification premiums.