Only a month after Cadbury announced its plan to buy fair-trade cocoa from Ghana, rival candy giant Mars has promised to source all chocolate products from sustainable suppliers by 2020. The move, which means the company will only buy cocoa that meets certain environmental, labor, and production standards, will cost Mars tens of millions of dollars—but the the company doesn't plan to raise prices.
First up for Mars: Galaxy chocolate bars in Britain and Ireland, which have a seal of approval from New York City's Rainforest Alliance. The Alliance is working with Mars to improve cocoa yields without damaging the environment.
The candy industry's growing commitment to sustainable cocoa is as much about self-preservation as it is about the environment. 90% of global cocoa production comes from 3 million farmers working on four to six acre plots of land. The farmers are poor, the plots of land are old, and soil is degrading. To make matters worse, most cocoa farmers don't have the training to sustain high yields.
Unless companies take the initiative to secure better conditions, they could find themselves without the raw ingredients necessary to satisfy mid-afternoon chocolate cravings around the world. In other words, expect to see much more sustainable chocolate in the near future.