09 April 2009 | Martha McKenzie-Minifie
Confectionery giant Mars Incorporated will spend millions in a bid to ensure its entire cocoa supply meets sustainability certification by 2020.
As part of an agreement with the Rainforest Alliance, the US-based food company will forge closer links with farmers to produce 100,000 metric tonnes of cocoa every year that meets strict sustainability criteria.
Mars, which owns brands including Mars, Snickers and M&M's, said it would be involved in teaching producers new farming techniques to improve yields and better protect the environment.
The company said it had already invested more than $10 million (£6.8 million) in each of the last "several" years on sustainable cocoa production initiatives. It will use Rainforest Alliance certified cocoa in its Galaxy chocolate sold in the UK and Ireland by next year. Other chocolate bars will follow.
"We are determined to put our principles into action, restoring cocoa supply for the next generation," said Mars president Paul Michaels.
Last year, Mars Drinks achieved Rainforest Alliance certification for three Flavia coffee offerings.
Last month Cadbury said its Dairy Milk chocolate will get Fairtrade certification by summer, as the company strives to improve living standards for cocoa suppliers in Ghana (Web news, 6 March 2009).
About 300 people from 29 countries last month attended the second meeting of the Roundtable for a Sustainable Cocoa Economy in Trinidad and Tobago. The Trinidad and Tobago Declaration, agreed at the event, outlined a framework for achieving a sustainable cocoa economy, including listing Guidelines for Best Known Practices in the Cocoa Value Chain and establishing a Cocoa Sustainability Fund.
Meanwhile, more fashion items are going green. Department store chain Debenhams has produced a £55 trouser suit - dubbed the "ultimate designer eco-outfit" - made from 50 recycled plastic bottles melted down to create a type of polyester.