Mars is one of the world’s largest chocolate manufacturing companies, using some 400,000 tons of the world’s cocoa which is also around 10% of the world’s cocoa supply.
“Particularly in Asia, I see two defining trends. The first one is on the demand side, and the way the chocolate industry looks at demand is we see this based on grinding and processing as a proxy for consumption,” Mars Asia Director for Cocoa Sustainable Sourcing Fay Fay Choo told FoodNavigator-Asia.
“Asia grinds about 25% of the world’s cocoa, and in the last five to 10 years we’ve seen really good growth coming due to an emerging middle class, better GDP and income and wealth [particularly] in places like China, India and South East Asia – we’ve only got a one way trajectory which is upwards when it comes to these”
“On the flip side, the not so great news is that supply here has been the other way around – to give you an idea, Indonesia used to be the third largest producer of cocoa globally after Ivory Coast and Ghana but in the last eight years alone it’s lost about 67% of production, from about 600,000 tons to now under 200,000 tons.”
Choo added that this has been driven by factors such as ageing trees, ageing farmers, as well as pest and disease pressures.
“So, we’ve got this regional imbalance which is clearly not sustainable, and for a business [such as Mars] to have long term growth plans, we have to be thinking about securing supply and growing more cocoa.”
“But we cannot be growing more cocoa by clearing forests – we need to grow more cocoa on less land, or land that has already been used, and think about providing incomes for families such that they and their next generations will continue cocoa farming.”
She added that sustainability is also key to the company as consumers around the world are demanding more accountability in addition to quality and safety.
“That’s the reality of the marketplace. They want to know what companies are doing not just to take away [from the systems we are operating within] but also how we are giving back.
“With the reduction in cocoa supply [here in Asia] and other issues we face, we see that sustainability has become a critical business imperative and [a part of our business strategy] to thrive in the long term.”
Watch the video above to find out more.