Don’t Prioritize Cheap Cocoa Over Human Rights

Target: Poul Weihrauch, CEO, Mars

Goal: Don’t use cocoa produced by child labor in Mars candies.

The harsh realities of the cocoa trade are far from an industry secret these days. Untenable work hours and child labor are just a few of the archaic labor law offenses in many of the countries that produce cocoa in bulk for international candy companies. While these corporations argue such practices allow them to bring products to market for a relatively lower price, most would rebut that a few cents extra for a candy bar is a very small price to pay for human rights.The Mars company is known for household favorite confectionaries like M&Ms and Snickers, Milky Way, and Twix bars. The organization is making a number of strides, especially the effect their production has on the environment. Their 2021 “Sustainable in a Generation Plan” report outlines strides in areas such as minimizing waste in packaging, reducing greenhouse gasses, and using more sustainably sourced water. While “fair trade cocoa” is gaining momentum in international conversation on making sweets, it is strangely absent from Mars’ lengthy report. In fact, the words “fair trade” cannot be found in the document.

More alarming, the Business and Human Rights Resource Center found that less than a year before the sustainable plan report, the Mars company seemingly did not pay what is known as a living income differential (L.I.D.) for cocoa farmers who may live in poverty. The Coffee Cocoa Council also have not been happy after the company reportedly modified its own cocoa butter purchase process in order to avoid paying the L.I.D. It is time for the Mars company to bolster efforts to increase their use of fair trade certified cocoa.

Sign the petition to encourage Poul Weihrauch, CEO, to push the Mars company towards increasing the amount of fair trade cocoa used in their candies.

PETITION LETTER:

Dear CEO Weihrauch,

First of all, congratulations on your new position as CEO of the Mars company. Your history of work as president of Mars Petcare should provide a solid foundation to support the wellbeing of all living things, the purpose of this petition.

Even with the growing conversation about the importance of fair trade cocoa and increasing efforts for confectioners to incorporate more of this product in their candies, the Mars company appears to be avoiding the opportunity to be a forerunner in this effort. Companies with less resources and influence in the candy industry already have ensured their products carry the “fair trade” badge. Will Mars step up and rise to the occasion beyond the single fair trade candy bar found only in the U.K.?

Your company’s efforts to be more globally conscious are admirable. Work to minimize negative effects on the environment appear to be very important to Mars as outlined in your “Sustainable in a Generation Plan” report from 2021. The only thing missing from this public relations release is how fair trade cocoa factors into your long-term sustainability. To your credit, the document does mention a livable wage for workers and child labor as critical areas for growth, though this issue has been at the forefront of the mainstream chocolate industry long before 2021.

Sourcing mostly fair trade cocoa for the candy division at Mars is well past due. While it inevitably will increase production cost, something which of course affects the consumer, human rights in the creation of products in the U.S. is becoming more and more important to the general public. It is a good time for Mars to put people over profits and be a leader in fair trade cocoa use among mainstream brands. We urge you to take action now and look forward to seeing these efforts reflected in forthcoming public relations.

Sincerely,

[Your Name Here]

Photo credit: Evan-Amos


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