This article, written by our Chief Procurement & Sustainability Officer Barry Parkin, originally appeared in our 2017-2018 Sustainable in a Generation Plan report. Click here to read the full report.
We’ve always known that precompetitive partnerships will be crucial to delivering the changes needed at scale, so this past year we’ve invested heavily in building existing partnerships and starting new ones.
A crucial partnership is the Livelihoods Fund for Family Farming, which we co-founded with Danone and others in 2015. This fund will invest 120 million euros to develop sustainable agriculture projects that improve incomes for smallholder farmers, while also tackling food security and restoring ecosystems. We aim to positively impact 200,000 farms through this Livelihoods Fund. We now have three projects that have been in the field for more than a year and another four projects in the pipeline.
I recently had the opportunity to visit this project in action, working with vanilla farmers in Madagascar. Even after only one year, it’s clear this fund and approach is driving real change on the ground. It is on track to increase farmers’ revenues by as much as 300 percent, thanks to improving their growing practices and involving them in the next step in the supply chain. Our 10-year sourcing commitment means they can invest with certainty and we’re on track to provide thriving livelihoods for up to 3,000 producers and around 12,000 family members.
One of the biggest challenges we face is deforestation caused by expanding agriculture. On cocoa, we’ve worked with our peers in the industry via the World Cocoa Foundation to build a breakthrough public-private partnership called the Cocoa and Forests Initiative to end deforestation in Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire. Through strong government and industry action and investment, this initiative has the potential to halt deforestation caused by agriculture in these countries, and act as an example of what may be possible in other countries and with other raw materials.
We’ve launched a new long-term strategic partnership with Verité, a leading human rights organization, to strengthen the impact of our human rights programs — working across our own operations, with our Tier 1 suppliers, and into the farthest ends of extended supply chains. And we launched the Farmer Income Lab, a collaborative “think-do tank” to identify ways to increase smallholder incomes. The Lab’s initial research and insights, in collaboration with Oxfam, Wageningen University in the Netherlands and Dalberg Group, was published in 2018.
Another very important partner is the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, with whom we were an early partner in the New Plastics Economy. We’ve supported the Foundation’s efforts through our goal to work toward 100 percent recyclable packaging by 2025. Using less plastic packaging, reducing plastic packaging waste and increasing recyclability of our plastic packaging are top priorities for my team and me. We know we have much to do in this area and have increased our investment and resources to accelerate progress.
On water stress, we’ve made some good progress, notably on rice, where we’re focusing our efforts in Pakistan, Spain and the U.S. This is a good start, but we have more to do. And with climate change continuing to affect sourcing regions around the world, we face increasing risks.
In our efforts to nourish wellbeing, we’ve continued to build on our industry-leading approach to responsible marketing by deploying an enhanced system to measure compliance with our Mars Marketing Code, including robust third-party auditing. Our leadership in this area was publicly recognized by our No. 1 ranking in the marketing category of the 2018 Global Access to Nutrition Index (ATNI), and we’re working with a range of like-minded partners to drive higher industry standards — particularly in the emerging area of digital self-regulation.
We’re also making progress on commitments to improve and expand the product offerings we provide our consumers to support their wellbeing. We’ve dedicated significant innovation investment to address the needs of consumers who are seeking more natural ingredients — most notably in developing and driving regulatory approval across multiple markets for new natural color ingredients.
Through these initiatives — as well as internal programs to support the health and wellbeing of our Associates, among others — we were able to achieve a 55 percent increase in our overall Global ATNI score, increasing from 3.6 (out of 10) in 2016 to 5.6 in 2018.
Our Sustainable in a Generation Plan is directly linked to our business goals, which is why we’re investing more than $1 billion in the first three years to start the work to realize our ambition. We know our Plan will take decades to realize fully and we may not see fast progress in the early years on some of the goals. But we remain resolute in following our chosen path. This first year has been about starting the transformation of our raw material supply chains, accelerating what’s already working, building and investing in a number of critical partnerships and testing new approaches. The next few years will see a significant scaling up of our activity and impact on the ground.