In 2017, the World Cocoa Foundation launched the Cocoa and Forests Initiative (CFI), which is currently being implemented in Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana, Colombia, and more recently, Cameroon.
The initiative is co-chaired by the respective governments of these countries and supported by P4F and BUZA. The 35 companies involved have signed the Cocoa & Forests Initiative Collective Statement of Intent, supported by the Prince of Wales. The statement commits companies to “working together, pre-competitively, to end deforestation and forest degradation in the cacao supply chain, with an initial focus on Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire.”
Among the signatories of the initiative are Mars, as well as other leading global companies like Cargill and Barry Callebaut. Mars has recently updated its progress towards the commitments for the year 2021, stating that its goal to achieve Net Zero by 2050 was not easy, but they’re ‘up for the challenge’.
In Mars’ view, the most important first step is to create a deforestation-free Cocoa supply chain, an objective towards which the company claims to have made great progress. “Stopping deforestation in cocoa starts with transparency and technology but is ultimately made possible by working with our suppliers and other partners while keeping the farming communities at the centre of our efforts.”
Historically, accurately tracking the origin of Cocoa has proven challenging, but with the introduction of GPS polygon mapping, we now have the ability to trace the entire perimeter of a farm, rather than just a single GPS point. By using this technology, it is possible to achieve better transparency, prevent Cocoa laundering, and verify that cocoa is grown without deforestation.
In its announcement, Mars revealed that almost 94% (>130,900) of its Cocoa plots in Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire are now polygonally mapped, a move the company says is “essential to helping protect the forests and stop deforestation.
To combat the effects of the company’s contribution to climate change, Mars, alongside suppliers and civil society partners, has reportedly distributed >1,118,300 new non-Cocoa trees in 2021, designed to increase biodiversity, provide shade, and capture carbon.
Also in 2021, >272,600 hectares in its Cocoa supply chain across Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana were included in a deforestation risk assessment, according to the company’s suppliers.
If Mars and other key industry players are able to achieve a truly deforestation-free Cocoa supply chain as early as 2025, it could mark the first great success of the initiative since its launch in 2017.