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Confectionery giant Mars predicts a major cocoa shortage by 2020 and reveals harmonization of global cocoa certification programmes to ensure meaningful income hikes for farmers is one of its sustainable cocoa project goals, according to ConfectioneryNews.com.

The chocolate company warns that “unless more is done to promote sustainability”, the industry as a whole can expect a shortfall of more than one million tonnes of cocoa in just nine years.

Pledging to use 100% certified sustainable chocolate by 2020, Mars said its new cocoa sustainability drive is focused on “technology transfer that puts farmers first; innovations in agricultural science; and rigorous certification standards.”

Last year Mars Chocolate purchased certified cocoa representing about 5% of its total supply.

“This year, we are on track to buy 10% of our cocoa from certified sources.

By 2020, our goal is to purchase 100% certified cocoa, and we’ve committed to buy 100,000 metric tons each annually from both UTZ and Rainforest Alliance by that time,” Andrew Pederson, global chocolate manager – sustainability at Mars Chocolate was quoted saying.

He told ConfectioneryNews.com that while schemes such as UTZ and the Rainforest Alliance have already been great partners in advancing the ways certification can support real progress for farmers, the industry now must:

“Increase its investment in evaluating and improving certification programmes according to common goals that prioritize good outcomes for farmers.

Creating a common set of auditing standards and farm-level will take a much more focused coalition of government, industry and civil society partners, and Mars is very interesting in supporting future efforts along these lines.”

Pederson said that Mars has been teaming up with German body GTZ on the Certification Capacity Enhancement project (CCE), which is bidding to promote cooperation between standards, companies and NGOs.

“We have also collaborated with ISEAL [global association for social and environmental standards] to identify potential improvements,” said the Mars representative.

Pederson added that its sustainability drive also includes new Cocoa Development Centers (CDC) in Africa and Asia to give farmers “access to advanced agricultural methods and to cocoa trees that produce more and are more disease resistant.”

And following on from its role in mapping the cocoa genome, it is now engaged in applying the genome to specific issues in cocoa growing regions.

Pederson explained that Mars is involved in breeding projects in South America and Asia: “We expect that [these] will greatly speed up our process for evaluating and distributing new plant types that address common pests like cocoa pod borer.”

Mars comments that industry efforts can help to mitigate climate change by reducing the overall land footprint taken up by cocoa.

“By focusing on increasing farmer productivity and promoting crop diversity, farmers can get much more income out of the same land area,” said Pederson. — Source: ConfectioneryNews.com

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