Breaking News
Investing Pro 0
New Year’s SALE: Up to 40% OFF InvestingPro+ CLAIM OFFER

Mars aims to tackle 'broken' cocoa model with new sustainability scheme

Commodities Sep 19, 2018 09:33AM ET
Saved. See Saved Items.
This article has already been saved in your Saved Items
 
© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: M&M's chocolate candies are displayed at the M&M's World store in New York

By Ana Ionova

LONDON (Reuters) - Mars Wrigley Confectionery launched a new sustainability strategy on Wednesday with the aim of combating deforestation, child labor and poverty in what it called the "broken" cocoa supply chain.

U.S.-based Mars, the maker of M&Ms and Snickers, said it had revamped its cocoa strategy in an effort to tackle problems that the company and wider industry had so far failed to address.

"The cocoa supply chain as it works today is broken," John Ament, global vice president of cocoa at the privately owned company, told Reuters in an interview.

"It's time to recognize this and to build a new model and a new approach that focuses on putting the smallholder at the center."

The cocoa industry's current approach to sustainability has drawn criticism in recent months, as years of scattered actions have done little to improve the lives of farmers and prevent environmental degradation.

Under the new sustainability scheme - which will cost the company $1 billion over 10 years - all the cocoa it buys will be responsibly sourced by 2025, Mars said.

This means the cocoa will fit the company's internal criteria - including full traceability to ensure it doesn't contribute to deforestation - and carry a stamp of approval from a third-party verifier.

Mars had previously committed to buying 100 percent certified cocoa by 2020. However, the company is now looking to move "beyond certification", which has not delivered the impact the company had hoped for, according to Ament.

"Certification isn't enough," he said. "Our belief is that we need to set more demanding standards than certification sets today."

Currently, 50 percent of the cocoa that Mars buys is certified by schemes such as Rainforest Alliance and Fairtrade. Mars said it will maintain these volumes and potentially increase them if it sees improvements in the schemes' standards.

Certification - designed to ensure more ethical practices and better earnings - has also been widely criticized as doing little to improve the lives of farmers, as the premiums they receive under the biggest of these schemes have been falling.

HIGHER PREMIUMS, GPS MAPPING

As part of its new scheme, Mars said it will work with certifiers and suppliers to "overhaul" its premium model, ensuring it pays more for responsibly sourced cocoa.

"We'll see a combination of increased premiums overall and a bigger share of those premiums going to the farmers," Ament said.

The scheme will also use GPS mapping to ensure none of the cocoa it sources is coming from protected forests. Much of the surge in production in West Africa has come from the encroachment of cocoa into protected areas.

Mars also plans to work with certifiers and suppliers to tackle hazardous child labor on plantations through community monitoring and intervention schemes.

However, the company said it recognizes that the voluntary nature of such programs - coupled with limited access to schooling - poses a challenge. It aims to work with governments to drive investments in infrastructure and to provide communities with an alternative to child labor.

The company's new strategy also involves measures aimed at ensuring long-term sustainability, which will be rolled out across 75,000 farming families and suppliers. These will aim to boost productivity, help producers diversify crops and improve access to finance.

"We're convinced that these farmers need a broader source of income to ensure that they have a resilient model, with income spread throughout the year rather than just two peak seasons of cocoa," Ament said.

Some critics have accused productivity schemes of contributing to overproduction, with Ivory Coast this year halting the distribution of higher-yielding seed varieties and other advanced tools.

However, Ament said Mars is seeking to collaborate with governments and stakeholders to ensure productivity increases do not have a negative impact on supply and price.

Mars aims to tackle 'broken' cocoa model with new sustainability scheme
 

Related Articles

Add a Comment

Comment Guidelines

We encourage you to use comments to engage with other users, share your perspective and ask questions of authors and each other. However, in order to maintain the high level of discourse we’ve all come to value and expect, please keep the following criteria in mind:  

  •            Enrich the conversation, don’t trash it.

  •           Stay focused and on track. Only post material that’s relevant to the topic being discussed. 

  •           Be respectful. Even negative opinions can be framed positively and diplomatically. Avoid profanity, slander or personal attacks directed at an author or another user. Racism, sexism and other forms of discrimination will not be tolerated.

  • Use standard writing style. Include punctuation and upper and lower cases. Comments that are written in all caps and contain excessive use of symbols will be removed.
  • NOTE: Spam and/or promotional messages and comments containing links will be removed. Phone numbers, email addresses, links to personal or business websites, Skype/Telegram/WhatsApp etc. addresses (including links to groups) will also be removed; self-promotional material or business-related solicitations or PR (ie, contact me for signals/advice etc.), and/or any other comment that contains personal contact specifcs or advertising will be removed as well. In addition, any of the above-mentioned violations may result in suspension of your account.
  • Doxxing. We do not allow any sharing of private or personal contact or other information about any individual or organization. This will result in immediate suspension of the commentor and his or her account.
  • Don’t monopolize the conversation. We appreciate passion and conviction, but we also strongly believe in giving everyone a chance to air their point of view. Therefore, in addition to civil interaction, we expect commenters to offer their opinions succinctly and thoughtfully, but not so repeatedly that others are annoyed or offended. If we receive complaints about individuals who take over a thread or forum, we reserve the right to ban them from the site, without recourse.
  • Only English comments will be allowed.
  • Any comment you publish, together with your investing.com profile, will be public on investing.com and may be indexed and available through third party search engines, such as Google.

Perpetrators of spam or abuse will be deleted from the site and prohibited from future registration at Investing.com’s discretion.

Write your thoughts here
 
Are you sure you want to delete this chart?
 
Post
Post also to:
 
Replace the attached chart with a new chart ?
1000
Your ability to comment is currently suspended due to negative user reports. Your status will be reviewed by our moderators.
Please wait a minute before you try to comment again.
Thanks for your comment. Please note that all comments are pending until approved by our moderators. It may therefore take some time before it appears on our website.
 
Are you sure you want to delete this chart?
 
Post
 
Replace the attached chart with a new chart ?
1000
Your ability to comment is currently suspended due to negative user reports. Your status will be reviewed by our moderators.
Please wait a minute before you try to comment again.
Add Chart to Comment
Confirm Block

Are you sure you want to block %USER_NAME%?

By doing so, you and %USER_NAME% will not be able to see any of each other's Investing.com's posts.

%USER_NAME% was successfully added to your Block List

Since you’ve just unblocked this person, you must wait 48 hours before renewing the block.

Report this comment

I feel that this comment is:

Comment flagged

Thank You!

Your report has been sent to our moderators for review
Continue with Google
or
Sign up with Email