On 19 September 2018, chocolate company Mars, Inc. launched its Cocoa for Generations strategy, which aims to improve its cocoa supply chain. The strategy is backed by a $1 billion investment over 10 years and aims to have 100 percent of Mars cocoa responsibly sourced by the year 2025.
Mars’ commitment places the interest of the smallholder farmer at its center, helps to safeguard children and forests, and creates a pathway for cocoa farmers and cocoa-growing communities to thrive. While Mars implements its new approach, they will continue working with the Rainforest Alliance to maintain their current volume of certified cocoa from all sources at approximately 50%, the majority of which is with the Rainforest Alliance.
“We look forward to furthering our relationship with Mars,” said Britta Wyss Bisang, Chief Sustainable Supply Chain Officer of the Rainforest Alliance. “Their commitment is well aligned with our new strategy, which puts more focus on collaboration between producers, NGOs, companies and governments, and works to achieve better outcomes for farmers, their families, and forests.”
The Rainforest Alliance has consistently worked to improve its standards over the years. In July 2017, we launched a revised standard that encompasses existing best practices and recent innovations in sustainable agriculture—including methods designed to guide farmers in adapting to the impacts of climate change. In January 2018, we joined with Dutch sustainable agriculture organization UTZ in an unprecedented merger to combine our respective strengths and better position us to achieve the scale of transformation necessary to address the pressing, interrelated challenges of deforestation, climate change, systemic poverty, and social inequity.
We are now working in collaboration with our many stakeholders to create a reimagined certification system, one that emphasizes continuous improvement—beyond compliance—by measuring and incentivizing change. This includes farm and group-level improvements, measured against a new standard and assurance system and supported by sector and landscape initiatives. Our goal is to drive more benefits and incentives down the value chain to reward farmers for investing time and financial resources in sustainability—an outcome that is especially important in the cocoa sector. Our new approach also includes advocating for stronger government policy and regulation, increased company commitments, and the financial investments that are essential to realizing lasting, system change.
The Rainforest Alliance believes certification is one tool among many; it works best when tailored to meet farmers’ needs and supported by long-term commitments from all actors in the supply chain. We will continue to collaborate with Mars and other actors in the supply chain on the shared goal of moving the cocoa sector toward a more sustainable future.
The new Rainforest Alliance future standard will move into the public consultation period in November 2018.
If you would like to stay informed on the progress of our new certification program and for more information go here.