Cocoa Sustainability Challenges – Sustainability | Mars, Incorporated
Sustainability Challenges



Demand for cocoa is growing. Assuming a two percent annual growth, the world will require at least one million more metric tons per year to meet needs by 2020. This is the equivalent of doubling present production by the Côte d'Ivoire, the world's leading cocoa producer. But while demand is increasing, farm yields are declining — our industry needs to act now so we can protect the future of the field for everyone.

Three key issues contribute to this pressure: underinvestment, under-performing farms and fragmentation.


For farmers to succeed in growing their crops, they need access to research that helps them produce higher-quality plants, control pests and diseases, and maintain overall better agricultural practices. But research takes time, costs money and demands a sophisticated infrastructure to transfer knowledge to the farm. As a crop mostly grown by individual farmers, cocoa hasn’t historically benefited from government or industry support — as a result, it’s lagged behind other crops like corn and wheat. We think it’s time for that to change.


Farmers deserve the right tools to create high-performing farms. But right now, they are instead struggling with aging cocoa trees that produce less and less cocoa over time and dangerous pests and diseases that can destroy much of their harvest. On top of this, many farmers don't have access to agricultural tools and products that will enable them to flourish, including good-quality plants, fertilizers and knowledge of best practices. These difficulties result in low productivity and incomes, which mean that farmers often lack education, information and financing to improve their skills and output.


There are more than five million cocoa farmers worldwide, many working in remote parts of West Africa, Asia and the Americas. Their sheer number makes it very difficult to make industry-wide changes. To transform the cocoa industry in the systematic way that’s required, we need to partner effectively with NGOs, governments, food manufacturers and other groups with a stake in its sustainable future. By drawing on our collective expertise and resources across the world, we can deliver a holistic program from farm to factory and help safeguard the future of the industry.


World Cocoa Foundation

The World Cocoa Foundation promotes a more sustainable cocoa economy through economic and social development and environmental conservation in cacao-growing communities.

International Cocoa Initiative

The International Cocoa Initiative is a partnership between NGOs, labor unions, cacao processors and the major chocolate brands that is dedicated to changing the way cacao is grown.

International Cocoa Organization

Membership of the International Cocoa Organization represents cacao-producing and cocoa-consuming countries — that means pretty much everywhere.

National Confectioners Association

The National Confectioners Association helps the industry grow by advancing and promoting the interests of the confectionery industry and its consumers.

Cocoa Producers Alliance

The Cocoa Producers Alliance is an inter-governmental organization that promotes cocoa research.

Challenges — such as pests, low-yield and fragmentation — are all bumps on the road to sustainability Mars is working to overcome.