Forests serve as important reservoirs of carbon, and the clearance of primary forest cover causes serious increases in greenhouse gas emissions. Forests also provide habitat for half of all known plant and animal species, regulate local rainfall patterns and provide livelihoods for millions of people in rural communities.
More than five million farmers in West Africa, Southeast Asia and the Americas grow cocoa, often in areas where deforestation is a problem. Most are smallholders working modest plots of land planted with aging, unproductive cocoa trees that generate little income. There is an urgent need to help farmers grow more cocoa on existing farmland, without encroaching on remaining forests.
Mars sources cocoa from a number of countries including Brazil, Cameroon, Côte d’Ivoire, Columbia, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Ghana, Indonesia, Nigeria, Papua New Guinea, Peru, Philippines and Vietnam, with the majority coming from Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana and Indonesia.
As part of the Mars wide Sustainable in a Generation Plan, in September 2018 we announced our Cocoa for Generations strategy. Through this strategy, we will continue our journey to source Responsible Cocoa across our entire supply chain by 2025, with measures to improve farmer incomes, protect children and preserve forests.
This document explains our approach to preserving forests within our cocoa supply chain, and as part of our Mars wide ambition to hold flat our land use and reduce greenhouse gas emissions from our value chain by 67% by 2050, from 2015 levels.
Our Ambition & Supply Chain Solutions
Mars is a member of the World Cocoa Foundation’s Cocoa & Forests Initiative established in 2018. Mars is a signatory to the CFI commitments to halt deforestation and forest degradation in the global cocoa supply chain, with an initial focus on Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana, where more than 65% of cocoa is grown.
Our aim is to achieve a deforestation-free supply chain by 2025. Where credible, landscape-level frameworks such as CFI exist and are backed by other critical actors, we may take additional steps to support enhanced agroforestry, reforestation or forest restoration, or to prevent conversion in other habitats.
The challenges the cocoa industry faces are complex and must be tackled collectively. We firmly support the frameworks for action introduced by the governments of Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana as part of the CFI. In full alignment with these frameworks, we have developed company action plans for the two countries and are proud to share our progress: Mars Action Plans. The action plans set out our actions, targets and progress achieved so far within the three CFI pillars of Forest Protection and Restoration, Sustainable Production and Farmers’ Livelihoods, and Community Engagement and Social Inclusion. We are working in partnership with all our suppliers and technical expert organizations to pursue quality implementation of our CFI country action plans.
Following Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana, our priority countries for 2021 are Indonesia, Brazil and Cameroon. This year, we will complete forest risk assessments in these countries and develop a country action plan for Indonesia. The Action for Brazil and Cameroon will be published in 2021. With respect to Ecuador, we will complete a further risk assessment in 2021 as well as review our approach in other countries from which we source cocoa.
Each country’s action plan will describe our ambition on how we will work with our suppliers, partners and government to meet the following:
- All cocoa we source is from legal sources, with a deforestation cutoff date of 2008 or the date specified in a credible landscape-level framework such as CFI
- No deforestation of primary forest or areas of high conservation value
- No development in high carbon stock forest areas
- Working within credible, landscape-level frameworks where these exist
- Support existing human rights commitments including respect for cocoa farmer’s land rights, free prior and informed consent, and the rights of indigenous and forest-dependent people for cocoa plantation developments on land they own legally, communally or by custom
- Where appropriate, improvements to existing cocoa farms through the provision of shade trees
- Any further actions to support enhanced agroforestry, reforestation or forest restoration, or to prevent conversion in other habitats
- Traceability to farm level globally by 2025, with some countries achieving this earlier. We will support the development of national traceability frameworks to enable this process where relevant
- Compliance with the Mars, Incorporated Supplier Code of Conduct: This sets our expectations in the areas of child labor, forced labor, discrimination, compensation and benefits, working hours, freedom of association and right to collective bargaining, health and safety, the environment and ethical business practices.
- Collaboration: We will continue to work with government, industry and civil society stakeholders on collaborative efforts to preserve forests. In particular, we will support governments to implement and enforce forest protection policies, as our own ambitions rely on these being put into effect.
- Verification: We will work to redefine cocoa production standards with people and planet at their core, and to introduce measures to verify that the cocoa we source complies with our approach and Cocoa for Generations. Verification may include assurance against enhanced certification standards that go beyond current requirements or other forms of third-party assessment. Our country action plans will define verification measures that reflect the local situation.
- Supply Chain transparency: We believe it is important to drive greater supply chain traceability and transparency and will annually disclose our traceability progress.
We are seeking to build an efficient and highly transparent supply chain that gives us confidence we are preventing deforestation. Our approach applies globally to our Tier 1, cocoa suppliers we source directly from.
We will work closely with governments and first-tier cocoa suppliers to implement our action plans, while providing clear guidelines and support. Where we believe no further progress is possible, we reserve the right to step away from supplier relationships suppliers who do not meet our Responsible Cocoa specifications in the required time frame. We recognize that stepping away may harm smallholder farmers in a supplier’s value chain and will aim to minimize impact where possible. Where necessary, we will seek support from expert partners as we work towards our ambition.
As we implement our approach, Mars will utilize a panel of internal and external stakeholders to review our approach at least every two years. The review will hold us and our suppliers to account, share lessons learned, and ensure our approach remain appropriate and effective.