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Mars Promotes Sustainability, Warns Of Cocoa Shortage
Posted By aburroughs On June 24, 2011 12:00 AM In | No Comments
Hackettstown, NJ — Seeing the possibility of a cocoa shortage in as soon as eight years, Mars Chocolate North America is promoting a wide range of sustainability efforts.
Andrew Pederson, global chocolate manager, sustainability for Mars Chocolate North America, tells Candy & Snack TODAY numbers from the International Cocoa Organization (ICCO) show demand for cocoa has grown three percent year-on-year for the past 100 years. Based on that model, he claims output will need to reach 4.5 million metric tons by 2020 to satisfy demand. “Looking at the production trends, countries aren't keeping pace with that,” he says.
In West Africa, existing trees have been producing since the 1980s and are averaging 450 kilos per hectare when they have the potential to produce several thousand kilos per hectare, he notes. To help farmers grow cocoa to the crop’s potential, Mars has introduced Cocoa Development Centers in Africa and other countries to demonstrate better agricultural practices.
Good planting material, better agricultural practices and farming methods, and proper fertilizer are being emphasized in the centers, which demonstrate these lessons to farmers. The centers allow farmers see these practices result in higher-yielding trees, which emphasizes how existing plots can be much more productive using these techniques, Pederson says.
Also as part of its effort to improve sustainability, Mars has pledged to source 100 percent of its cocoa through UTZ and Rainforest Alliance programs. This past year, the supplier sourced some five percent of its cocoa from these sources and is on track to purchase 10 percent of its cocoa through these schemes.
UTZ and Rainforest have been chosen because the systems focus on crop productivity and farmer income, and both have worked closely with the company to make on-the-ground adjustments to their programs. However, with a commitment to purchase 100,000 metric tons from each of these certifiers by 2020, Pederson says: “We’re open to work with any certifier.”
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