The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

Tim Newman,, 202-347-4100 x113 or

Mars, Inc. Announces Sustainability Commitments for Cocoa

LRF and OCA call for stronger commitment to Fair Trade and Organic sourcing


This Wednesday, Mars,
Incorporated announced
a commitment to source 100,000 metric tons of cocoa
certified by the Rainforest Alliance annually for use in Mars products.
The first product to use Rainforest Alliance certified cocoa will be Galaxy
Chocolate in the UK and Ireland
beginning in 2010. While Mars refers to the commitment as a
"milestone" in advancing sustainable cocoa farming, organizations
like the International Labor Rights Forum have been pushing Mars to adopt
stronger labor standards to end child labor in their cocoa supply chain and to
support organic farming for eight years.

Rainforest Alliance standards for cocoa production are not the
strongest in terms of sustainability certification programs. However, one
important aspect of the standards is that they apply at least to the
cooperative level. For years, major chocolate companies have argued that
it is impossible to establish a certification program on the farm or cooperative
level, but Mars' announcement shows that it is indeed possible.
Rainforest Alliance certification is an important improvement over the
"certification" process established by major chocolate companies as
part of the Harkin-Engel Protocol, which does not include any labor or
environmental standards. Other major US food companies like Kraft have
used Rainforest Alliance certified cocoa for years.

Mars' announcement comes a little over a month after Cadbury
that it would seek Fair Trade certification for the top selling
chocolate bar in the UK
market by the end of this summer. Even before Cadbury announced its
commitment to supporting Fair Trade, companies like Divine Chocolate, Equal
Exchange and Sweet Earth Organic Chocolates have led the way in embracing
ethical and sustainable cocoa sourcing practices. Sixty chocolate
companies and organizations have endorsed a statement outlining how the
chocolate industry can embrace a more ethical cocoa supply chain titled
"Commitment to Ethical Cocoa Sourcing" (available
online here

Bama Athreya, Executive Director of
the International Labor Rights Forum
, said, "While it is important that Mars is
taking a step forward toward sustainable cocoa farming, this recent
announcement does not do enough to ensure that workers are not exploited in the
company's global supply chain. We have been calling on chocolate
companies to support Fair Trade since 2001 and we encourage Mars, as well as
other major US
chocolate companies like Hershey, to go further in ensuring that they
contribute to higher working and living standards for cocoa farmers."

Ryan Zinn, Campaigns Coordinator of
the Organic Consumers Association
, said, "Consumers are demanding ethical and
sustainable chocolate with strong labor standards for cocoa farmers. The
Organic Consumers Association urges Mars to incorporate certified USDA organic
and Fair Trade cocoa into its supply chain."

The Organic Consumers Association (OCA) is an online and grassroots 501(c)3 nonprofit public interest organization, and the only organization in the U.S. focused exclusively on promoting the views and interests of the nation's estimated 50 million consumers of organically and socially responsibly produced food and other products. OCA educates and advocates on behalf of organic consumers, engages consumers in marketplace pressure campaigns, and works to advance sound food and farming policy through grassroots lobbying. We address crucial issues around food safety, industrial agriculture, genetic engineering, children's health, corporate accountability, Fair Trade, environmental sustainability, including pesticide use, and other food- and agriculture-related topics.