Cocoa for Generations
Saving Tomorrow’s Cocoa, Today
We're investing more than $1 billion to make our cocoa supply chain sustainable.

Our chocolate has been loved the world over for more than 100 years. But to ensure we can continue providing chocolate for future generations, we know sustainable cocoa production is key. 

As part of our Sustainable In A Generation Plan — which aims to ensure a healthy planet, help people thrive, and nourish wellbeing — we’re taking a deep look into every aspect of our business and how the ingredients that make our products are grown or harvested. This, of course, includes the cocoa supplied for our brands like M&Ms®, Twix®, Dove® and Snickers®.

Unfortunately, today’s cocoa supply chain doesn’t meet our ambitions. At Mars, we’re ready to take a new approach that creates a pathway for cocoa farmers, their families and their communities to thrive. Cocoa for Generations is our contribution and we want others to join us in the development of effective, scalable and innovative solutions. We will back up our Cocoa for Generations strategy with an investment of more than billion over the next 10 years, and commit to two pillars of work through which we will step up our efforts to increase smallholder farmer income, protect children and preserve forests today. We will also work to crack the code on a model for modern sustainable cocoa farming for tomorrow.

Cocoa for Generations 

Last year, we launched our Sustainable in a Generation Plan, committing our global business to unlock systemic changes that benefit people and the planet. This plan has led us to fundamentally rethink our cocoa sustainability strategy. 

Over the years, we’ve made progress in addressing social and environmental challenges in the cocoa sector, reaching nearly 180,000 farmers with certification and improving average yields on participating farms.

But we’re impatient with the pace of our progress, and of the sector overall. Despite progress, farmers haven’t experienced improvements in their incomes or living conditions at an adequate pace. Children continue to labor in hazardous conditions, with significant gaps in access to safe, high-quality schooling. Deforestation continues in the cocoa supply chain with farming occurring in protected forest areas. Business and government must think and act differently if cocoa farming families are to thrive in the future.

Cocoa for Generations is our contribution. We commit to two pillars of work, Responsible Cocoa Today and Sustainable Cocoa Tomorrow, and invite others to join us in the development of effective, scalable and innovative solutions.

Responsible Cocoa Today

The first pillar of Cocoa for Generations is Responsible Cocoa Today. It aims to ensure 100 percent of our cocoa is responsibly sourced globally and is traceable by 2025.

This pillar goes beyond the current level of certification standards and practices and commits us to action across three focus areas that put cocoa farmers, communities and the environment at the center of our efforts:

Protect children


Too many children work in hazardous conditions in the cocoa sector. Early indications suggest that child labor monitoring and remediation programs (CLMRS) have the potential to halve the rate of hazardous child labor among participating families. We will work with our suppliers and certifiers to enhance CLMRS deployed in our Responsible Cocoa Today supply chain and continue to help improve education in cocoa-growing communities with a focus on access to quality schools. It is crucial that children in cocoa communities have a safe alternative to work and that they have the opportunity to thrive.


Our aim is to achieve a deforestation-free global cocoa supply chain by 2025. Our ambition, which is underpinned by the Cocoa for Generations plan Mars announced last year, recognizes the need to eliminate deforestation by growing more cocoa on existing legal farmland, without encroaching on remaining forests. We expect farms supplying our cocoa that are in our Responsible Cocoa Today program to provide satellite based GPS locations so that we have assurances that cocoa does not come from protected forest areas. As part of our promise of transparency, we are disclosing our cocoa countries of origin, our current Tier 1 suppliers of Mars and progress on traceability to Tier 2 Farmer Groups and Tier 3 Farmers as well as our detailed action plans for Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana - where over 65% of the world’s cocoa is grown - as part of our contribution to the Cocoa and Forests Initiative. In 2020, we will publish action plans for Indonesia, Brazil and Cameroon, and complete a risk assessment for Ecuador, so that we know where efforts need to be focused. 



Our aim is to increase the income farmers generate from their cocoa. A foundational first step we will take is to work with partners to ensure that the model for premiums we pay for responsible cocoa is overhauled to ensure that farmers receive a higher share of the premium. In partnerships with others, we will also explore and encourage further sector-wide changes and partnerships that can bring about increased income for farmers.

While this new approach is implemented, Mars will maintain its current certified cocoa levels with Fairtrade and Rainforest Alliance and work with both organizations to strengthen implementation to raise the bar across the cocoa sector. Mars applauds both certification organizations’ efforts to organize individual farmers into groups and cooperatives, providing training and implementation management systems in certified farmer groups, and is committed to collaborate with them to improve audit controls, child labor monitoring, traceability and premiums paid to farmers. As further measurable efforts are made, Mars will continue transitioning its cocoa volumes to these new and stronger approaches.

Sustainable Cocoa Tomorrow



Supporting Long-Term Investment With Farm Development Plans: Farm Development Plans are support packages that are tailored to each farming household. We believe they have the potential to double cocoa yields per hectare, and to provide farmers with the opportunity to access financing.



Improve Household Income With Diversified Farming, Agroforestry And Other Alternatives: We will continue to advocate the benefits of diversified farming and good agroforestry models from, for example, other cash, timber and food crops, livestock and non-farm income.

Supporting Communities By Empowering Women Through Micro-Financing: We will expand village savings and loan programs for men and women in their cocoa communities to strengthen financial literacy, household savings and women income generating activities.



Changing the Way We Buy to Benefit Farmers: We will shift our cocoa covered by the Responsible Cocoa program from short-term transactions to longer-term relationships with cocoa suppliers and farmers. We hope this will improve the predictability and efficiency of our investments and drive more benefit for cocoa farmers and their communities.

Sharing Progress

As we advance our efforts across these two pillars, we will share our progress, challenges and lessons learned. We will actively engage and work with industry, governments and other civil-society partners to seek shared solutions and mutually beneficial results for cocoa farming families. We will continue to collaborate pre-competitively with our peers and with suppliers to accelerate shared learning via industry forums, including the World Cocoa Foundation (and its CocoaAction platform) and the International Cocoa Initiative.

Research and Science

Cacao farmers produce just 10 percent of the output they could achieve under perfect conditions with best practices. By contrast, corn production has reached 60 percent of its theoretical yield. Typically funded by governments, agricultural agencies or universities, research into cacao cultivation has long been under-resourced, receiving far too little research or funding. Mars believes its research efforts can help boost the productivity of the farmers we depend on by further encouraging greater funding into cacao research.

Our work is led by a network of Mars research farms, which includes:

  • The Mars Center for Cocoa Science in Bahia, Brazil: Opened in 1982, the center is a hub for world-class science and collaboration and leads our work on cocoa breeding, agroforestry systems, biodiversity-rich environments and land rehabilitation. 
  • Hacienda La Chola in Guayaquil, Ecuador: As one of the world’s leading research farms for cocoa yields and farm management practices, Hacienda La Chola enables Mars to scale up our plant science research and test learnings.
  • Mars Edge in Sulawesi, Indonesia: Mars started its journey in Indonesia in 1996 with the establishment of the first foreign cocoa processing factory in Makassar, Sulawesi. The business and factory were expanded in 2012 and it is now home to more than 300 Associates. Mars also has two Cacao Research Centers in Sulawesi where they work on improving the quality and productivity of cocoa in Indonesia by focusing on the breeding of superior clones, integrated pest management, soil management and diversified farming systems.

    Since 2013, Mars has trained 120 Cocoa Doctors directly through our network of four Cocoa Development Centres in South Sulawesi. These entrepreneurs provide advice and coaching to 12,000 farmers directly in their villages. Mars also actively works with eight vocational schools and has established a cocoa curriculum to encourage young people to become involved in cocoa farming and businesses.

One of our proudest accomplishments is our collaboration with IBM and the United States Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Research Center, during which we unraveled the sequencing of cocoa genomes. Since then, scientists worldwide have used that work to develop more resilient and higher yielding cocoa crops.

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