Mars Chocolate UK and Fairtrade Foundation have extended their partnership to source Fairtrade-certified cocoa for MARS® Bars in the United Kingdom and Ireland by October 2015.
Mars is the first UK company to announce a commitment under the new Fairtrade Cocoa Sourcing Programme, which aims to deliver more opportunities for cocoa farmers to sell on Fairtrade terms and connect them with businesses that actively support efforts to improve farmer livelihoods.
In 2009, Mars committed to certifying its entire cocoa supply as being produced in a sustainable manner by 2020.
In the UK, this new commitment from the Mars builds on the success of its partnership with Fairtrade on MALTESERS®, announced in 2011, and the Fairtrade Cocoa Sourcing Programme model, which was launched in partnership with Mars Chocolate Germany and the TWIX® brand in 2014. It will take the total premiums paid by Mars globally to Fairtrade cocoa cooperatives in West Africa to over $2 million per year by 2016.
Mars says it is guided by its principle of Mutuality, creating ‘mutual benefits’ for partners throughout the supply chain — and this extended partnership between Mars and Fairtrade is rooted in a shared belief in putting farmers first. It is an alternative approach of working hand-in-hand with cocoa cooperatives in Cote d’Ivoire, through which farmers themselves will be empowered both financially and with expert support.
The partnership will see Fairtrade cooperatives investing certification premiums in a full productivity package, including training, fertilizers and improved high yielding and disease resistant crops, enabling Fairtrade farmers to increase their yields and incomes.
An initial project with one of the cooperative groups supplying the cocoa for MARS® Bars will begin in 2015 and Mars and Fairtrade International have made a joint pledge to extend the program to more West African cocoa cooperatives covering Mars’ existing Fairtrade cocoa volumes over the coming years.
A report released last year found that private sector sourcing commitments from companies such as Mars, Unilever, Coca Cola, Starbucks and Home Depot are driving major market growth for sustainable commodities. Although once thought of as instruments primarily tailored for niche markets, voluntary sustainability standards such as Fairtrade, Rainforest Alliance and Organic are gaining traction in mainstream markets.
In other Mars news, the company’s North American arm recently announced that all 10 of its manufacturing facilities are now certified landfill-free, a significant step towards achieving a company-wide goal of zero-waste-to-landfill by 2015.