Chicago — Cocoa for Generations is Mars Wrigley Confectionery U.S., LLC’s new sustainability program, which is backed by a $1 billion, 10-year investment with the hopes of creating a path for cocoa farmers and the communities they operate in to thrive. The new cocoa initiative is incremental to the Sustainable in a Generation plan revealed this past year, according to the candymaker.
“For nearly 40 years we’ve been working to achieve sustainable cocoa production,” says John Ament, global vice-president – cocoa, Mars Wrigley Confectionery. “While we’ve made progress, including reaching nearly 180,000 farmers with sustainability certification, we are impatient with our pace of progress and of the cocoa sector overall. We don’t have all the answers but our first step is to put the farmer at the center of our ambitions and actions. We plan to inspire others and work together to ensure Cocoa for Generations.”
The new cocoa sustainability initiative consists of two pillars: Responsible Cocoa Today and Sustainable Cocoa Tomorrow.
As part of the first pillar, Mars Wrigley will work to have all of its cocoa sourced through the program responsibly grown and traceable by 2025. This will include implementing systems to address deforestation, child labor and bring higher incomes to farmers. To these ends, the candymaker will collaborate with suppliers and certifiers to enhance child labor monitoring and remediation programs, and work with partners to ensure the model for premiums the company pays for sustainably grown cocoa is overhauled so farmers receive a higher share, according to the company.
Through the second pillar, the candymaker hopes to demonstrate that step-changes are possible with regard to farmer income and livelihoods. Working with an initial group of 75,000 cocoa growers worldwide and suppliers, Mars Wrigley will test ways to boost productivity, income and overall sustainability through crop and income diversification, gender programs, savings and loan models and farm development plans.
While Cocoa for Generations is being implemented, Mars Wrigley will continue to maintain its current certified cocoa levels with the Rainforest Alliance and Fairtrade.
“We can all agree there needs to be a change on the ground for farmers, their families and forests,” says Britta Wyss Bisang, chief of sustainable supply chains for the Rainforest Alliance. “We commend Mars for deepening their commitment to cocoa producers, and for recognizing that step-change in action on the ground is needed. We look forward to furthering our relationship with Mars as this is well aligned with our new strategy, which puts more focus on collaboration between producers, NGO’s, companies and governments.”