June 30, 2011 / 11:28 AM / 6 years ago

Mars says 10 pct of cocoa sustainable this year

3 Min Read

* Chocolate maker wants all cocoa sustainable by 2020

* Working with Rainforest Alliance, UTZ Good Inside

ABIDJAN, June 30 (Reuters) - Chocolate-maker Mars said it was on track to buy 10 percent of its cocoa from sources certified as sustainable this year, and was working to increase that to 100 percent by 2020, though supply remained constrained.

In a statement late on Wednesday, Mars said it had partnered with the Rainforest Alliance and UTZ Good Inside with the aim of meeting 200,000 tonnes a year by the end of this decade.

Consumers, especially in Western countries, are increasingly demanding products certified as sustainable, as awareness grows of the impact their consumption has on the environment and the mostly poor workers who provide the raw materials.

Labels like the Rainforest Alliance and Fairtrade provide markets in rich countries -- often at premium prices -- for producers in developing states who adopt environmentally sound cultivation methods or labour policies that promote development.

Once niche brands, their market share has surged.

"Mars is working to certify 100 percent of our cocoa as sustainable by 2020, and we've already partnered with Rainforest Alliance and UTZ Good Inside to meet 200,000 metric tons of our projected annual cocoa supply by that time," Andrew D. Harner, Global Cocoa Director for Mars Chocolate, said.

"Currently, we are on track to buy 10 percent certified cocoa in 2011, but the available supply of certified cocoa is still constrained," he added.

Last week, Alex Assanvo, global product manager of the Fairtrade Labelling Organisation for cocoa, projected that total sustainable cocoa would increase fivefold to well over 200,000 tonnes a year by 2020, compared with 35,000 tonnes sold in 2010.

Fairtrade, which does not itself work with Mars, based those projections largely on expected demand, he said.

A U.N.-backed report last November said markets for sustainable products have expanded rapidly over the past five years and are growing much faster than for conventional goods.

"Our real interest in certification is to motivate an industry-wide adoption of sourcing criteria that will drive concrete benefits for farmers, first and foremost of which must be increased productivity and income," Harner said.

World no. 2 cocoa producer Ghana remains the biggest player in the sustainable market, with 60 percent, while Ivory Coast has about 30 percent. The rest is largely shared between Indonesia, Madagascar and Latin American countries. (Reporting by Tim Cocks; editing by Mark John)

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