Mars follows in Cadbury footsteps as it looks to source cocoa from India, a crop that still only accounts for a tiny fraction of world production.
Mars told ConfectioneryNews that it will start sourcing cocoa from India within the next two years. It plans to do the same for peanuts, but said it would take another five years due to safety concerns.
In 2010 Cadbury India planted 6.5 million cocoa seedlings in four states in India as part of its Cocoa Gold Programme.
According to the International Cocoa Association (ICCO), India will produce 16,000 metric tons (MT) of cocoa for the current cocoa year to the end of September 2014. This equates to a 0.4% share of the total world production forecast of 4.1m MT.
Researching a shift
Cadbury's program said in the states of Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka aims to help coconut growers plant cocoa as an inter-crop.
The company said in 2010, before it was acquired by Mondelēz International, that cocoa would enable Indian coconut farmers to use otherwise wasted farm land and to earn during the monsoon season since it is a perennial crop peaking in April to June and September to November.
It said India was a “relatively new entrant in to the world of cocoa cultivation”, but added Cadbury had begun its research into sourcing in the area back in 1965. Cadbury said productivity per tree in India is at over 1.1 kg, which it said was among the best in the world.
Craig Thorp, senior commercial manager for chocolate and food, for Mars China, the business overseeing the Indian subsidiary, told ConfectioneryNews that Mars was now conducting research in India as part of a plan to develop sourcing opportunities in different geographic areas, as it had previously done with seaweed ingredient carrageenan. However the company said previous reports of the sourcing shift had overstated its intentions in India and how far it had progressed.
"For many years, Mars has sourced a variety of raw materials from India and we are always looking to develop sourcing opportunities in areas where farmers and supporting industries are eager to partner, as we have with carrageenan," he said.