Galaxy to go green
As Easter approaches and the Western world goes mad for chocolate, confectionary giant Mars has announced it is working with the Rainforest Alliance to secure ethically-sourced cocoa for its chocolate production on an unprecedented scale.
Mars has said it aims to buy enough Rainforest Alliance certified cocoa to produce all of its Galaxy chocolate bars by early 2010 and will purchase all its cocoa from certified sources by 2020.
In order for this to be achieved, the Rainforest Alliance will have to ensure that enough farms meet its standards to produce 100,000 tons of cocoa a year by 2020.
This is expected to lead to improvements for many thousands of cocoa farmers in west Africa and other regions.
There are an estimated two million cocoa growers in Cote d'Ivoire and Ghana, which together produce about 80% of the world's cocoa supply.
Nearly all cocoa is grown on small, family farms that are vulnerable to disease, inclement weather and price fluctuations.
Since farmers manage small plots of about three hectares, the amount of cocoa beans required for Galaxy alone will require the annual harvest of several thousand farmers.
"Mars' commitment to buying sustainable cocoa is unprecedented in size and scope, and the benefits to farmers, farmworkers, tropical environments and wildlife will be tangible," said Tensie Whelan, president of the Rainforest Alliance.
"This initiative is an example of the tremendous impact global companies can have when they commit to sustainability. I have recently returned from Ghana, where I saw firsthand the problems, the improvements and the possibilities."
Rainforest Alliance certification ensures that goods and services are produced in compliance with strict guidelines protecting the environment, wildlife, workers and local communities.