UPDATE: Nov. 12, 2020: Mars disclosed its tier 2 cocoa suppliers in an interactive map, the company announced in its Cocoa for Generations report issued last month. Tier 2 suppliers go down to the farmer-group level. The next step is to extend transparency to individual farms.
Most of Mars' tier 2 suppliers (91) are located in the Ivory Coast while the minority are in Ghana (2) and Indonesia (13). At the end of 2019, the company could trace 95% of the cocoa it sources to a country of origin (tier 1), 51% of cocoa to the farmer-group level (tier 2) and 33% to a farm boundary (tier 3). Mars uses polygon mapping, which the company claims is more accurate than using GPS locating because it traces farm boundaries more closely to aid in deforestation monitoring.
- Mars released last week a list of its tier 1 cocoa suppliers along with progress on releasing tier 2 and 3 information in an effort to bring more transparency to its sustainable cocoa procurement efforts.
- These moves back up Mars' Cocoa for Generations plan, announced in September, which has the aim of attaining a deforestation-free cocoa supply chain by 2025. The company has also GPS-mapped 24% of its supply chain and announced more detailed steps to reaching this goal.
- In addition to publishing suppliers, Mars will GPS map its entire cocoa supply to the farm level by 2025, strengthen supplier standards for traceability in Cote D'Ivoire and Ghana and complete risk assessments for Indonesia, Brazil, Cameroon and Ecuador in the next two years. The company also committed to third-party verification of these efforts.
Companies dependent on crops with a high risk of contributing to deforestation — whether it's palm oil or cocoa — have learned in recent years that leaving sustainability work to outside entities like certifiers and nonprofits is not an effective way to change the supply chain. But this trend doesn't mean companies can or should set and execute on sustainability goals alone.
Mars' plans include supplier accountability infrastructure provided by the Accountability Framework, a set of core principles and definitions for supply chain accountability developed by a group of environmental and labor-focused NGOs, ostensibly without industry funding. The candymaker is also a member of the Cocoa and Forests Initiative (CFI) — an industry consortium with support from the U.K., Dutch and German governments, the World Bank, the International Finance Corporation, the Global Environment Facility and the Green Commodities Program of the United Nations Development Program.
As large manufacturing companies get deeper in the weeds on sustainability and disclose more about their supply chains, it becomes easier to see why past efforts haven't yielded much progress. Mars' focus on traceability as an initial priority that comes before major action is a hallmark of serious sustainability efforts.
Today, Mars can trace 95% of the cocoa it sources to a country of origin at the tier 1 level. At tier 2 (or farmer group level) that number drops to roughly 40% that can be traced. And 24% of the company's cocoa supply can be traced to the farm where it was grown, tier 3.
Cote D'Ivoire and Ghana are the most prolific producers of cocoa, so Mars has developed detailed plans for those countries first with more on the way. Indonesia, Brazil and Cameroon are next in 2020.