Cocoa Sustainability Approach – Sustainability | Mars, Incorporated
Cocoa Sustainability Approach



Putting the farmer first is the guiding principle for our programs. By prioritizing cacao farmers' needs, we believe we can tackle the challenges facing the cocoa industry in a systematic, holistic way.

The core elements of a successful cocoa farm are:

  • High yields produced using modern, sustainable agricultural practices
  • Access to good-quality plants and the right agricultural products, especially fertilizer
  • Well-educated farmers growing the right plants and managing their land and crops efficiently
  • Effective market access
  • Ongoing support and investment from governments and private companies

To address the major challenges facing farmers and the industry, we’re building a public-private network that helps promote and support these elements around the world.

Our Strategy — The Sustainable Cocoa Initiative (SCI)

Our strategy is driven by the needs of cocoa farmers, their families and their communities. At the heart of our strategy to increase productivity with smallholders, are four pillars:

  1. Research by Sequencing the Cocoa Genome
    In 2013, we announced our revolutionary sequencing of the cocoa genome and our initiative to share — pre-competitively — the results. Breeders are now using this knowledge to identify traits of disease resistance, enhanced yield, efficiency in water and nutrient use, as well as climate change adaptability, among the world’s cacao trees. Ultimately, this will result in healthier, stronger and more productive cacao cultivars, which will improve farmers’ yields and income. 
    Learn more about the Cocoa Genome project. »
  2. Certification
    By 2020, we are committed to sourcing 100% of our cocoa from certified sources. We have made significant investments and have partnered with organizations, such as Rainforest Alliance, UTZ Certified and Fairtrade. We also are leading efforts to strengthen certification standards across the board.
    Learn more about cocoa certification. »
  3. Vision for Change
    Because we believe that a holistic approach to addressing the needs of the community is the only sustainable way to improve livelihoods, Mars created Vision for Change in 2010. The purpose is to work with cocoa farming communities to improve agricultural practices, thereby increasing yields. It also is to address community needs, such as education, health and gender empowerment. We do this through the establishment of Cocoa Development Centers (CDCs) and Cocoa Village Centers (CVCs). CDCs educate farmers on managing their land and crops efficiently, and CVC operators provide farmers with good quality plants, fertilizers and pesticides, and they help with training and business management.
  4. Scale Through Industry
    The challenges we face are complex and must be tackled collectively. We are a part of CocoaAction, an unprecedented effort by the chocolate and cocoa industry to drive cocoa sustainability on a non-competitive basis. Launched by the World Cocoa Foundation, the goals and ambitions of the coalition are consistent with our productivity and community development approach, and will reach 300,000 farmers (200,000 in Côte d’Ivoire and 100,000 in Ghana) to increase their productivity and advance development initiatives within their communities.

Mars is promoting sustainable farming from the community level, giving farmers the knowledge and tools to help them succeed.