The first Mars bars featuring Fairtrade-certified cocoa have begun to be distributed to shops in the UK.

After taking Maltesers Fairtrade in 2012, Mars Chocolate UK has extended its commitment to sustainable sourcing to become the first UK company to commit to Fairtrade’s new Cocoa Sourcing Program.

The Fairtrade Cocoa Program, which was launched in partnership with Mars Chocolate Germany for its Twix brand there in 2014, aims to deliver more opportunities for cocoa farmers to sell on Fairtrade terms and connect them with businesses that actively support efforts to improve farmer livelihoods.

As part of this initiative, Mars and Fairtrade are taking a new approach to boost sustainable cocoa production and enhance the livelihoods of cocoa farmers, their families and cocoa-growing communities. Alongside paying Fairtrade Premiums to farmers’ organisations, Mars is working in partnership with Fairtrade cocoa co-operatives on the ground in Côte d’Ivoire which are building their own farmer-led projects to improve cocoa yields for the long term, through measures such as training farmers in the effective use of fertilisers and planting techniques and providing access to improved high yielding and disease resistant crops.

By 2016, the total Fairtrade premiums paid by Mars globally to cocoa cooperatives in West Africa will reach over US$2m per year.

Globally, Mars’ Sustainable Cocoa Initiative focuses on cocoa science research, transferring technology and agricultural methods to cocoa farmers to increase their productivity and working to promote certified sustainable practices. In 2009, Mars was the first global chocolate company to commit to certify its entire cocoa supply as being produced in a sustainable manner by 2020. Sourcing Fairtrade certified cocoa for Mars bars now on shelf in the UK and Ireland is the next step in that commitment.

Blas Maquivar, president, Mars Chocolate UK, commented: “This is an important milestone in the Mars bar’s 83-year history. We’re proud to make one of the nation’s favourite chocolate brands and we’re now even prouder that the Fairtrade-certified cocoa we source for it is helping farmers to make their crops, and ultimately their livelihoods, even more sustainable.

“At Mars, ‘mutuality’ is one of our guiding principles and this is a true example of sharing mutual benefits with partners throughout our supply chain.”

Michael Gidney, chief Executive of The Fairtrade Foundation, said: “The winning ingredient in this partnership between Fairtrade and Mars is that it puts farmers’ own organisations in control of improving their own livelihoods and cocoa production, and ensures much-needed investment to achieve mutual goals. We’re delighted that Mars, one our most iconic chocolate bars, is the first to join Fairtrade’s Cocoa Program in the UK, and that this will benefit some of the most vulnerable small-scale farming communities in Cote d’Ivoire.”

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