“The cocoa supply chain as it works today is broken.”
Mars, the massive candy company responsible for producing popular chocolates such as M&Ms, Milky Way, and Snickers is committing over $1 billion towards ensuring that all their cocoa supplies are from sustainable and ethical sources.
In the past, the company has come under fire for contributing to deforestation and supporting supply chains that relied on child labor and worker exploitation. The company will be working to eliminate child labor from its sourcing portfolio, promote better wages for farmers, reduce deforestation, and create financial stability networks for suppliers.
The US-based confectionary conglomerate will be investing the money with the intention of achieving their responsible sourcing goals by 2025.
According to Reuters, about 50% of the company’s supplies is currently certified by various conservationist and ethics organizations, but with certification being criticized for its lack of efficiency, Mars plans on working with independent authorities to ensure that all of their products are sourced without causing or contributing to deforestation, child labor, environmental degradation, or worker exploitation.
“The cocoa supply chain as it works today is broken,” John Ament, the company’s global vice president of cocoa, told Reuters. “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.”
“Certification isn’t enough,” he added. “Our belief is that we need to set more demanding standards than certification sets today.”
Part of the company’s strategy will involve using GPS to trace the origins of their products so they can avoid sourcing products that have been illegally planted on protected land.
Additionally, they will be working with national governments, local communities, and intervention programs to combat child labor through school enrollment and alternative financial assistance.