Mars Wrigley announced a new venture with 12Tree, a transformative asset manager and operator in the area of agroforestry, and ECOM, one of the world’s largest suppliers of sustainable cocoa beans. Andean Cacao is a climate-smart venture that seeks to catalyze sustainable farming by changing how cocoa is grown and pioneering modern agriculture practices that regenerate soil and positively impact communities.
Mars Wrigley’s commitment to a long-term agreement will help to provide financial stability and the development of Andean Cacao to scale to prove its transformative agricultural model. It will initially focus on regenerating over 2,000 hectares of cattle grazing land in Latin America into a highly productive, sustainable farm to deliver quality carbon-neutral cocoa beans. The project seeks to improve carbon sequestration, soil health, and biodiversity, create living-wage job opportunities, and support neighbor communities.
This innovative venture is the latest step in Mars Wrigley’s journey through its Cocoa for Generations strategy to build a modern, inclusive, and sustainable cocoa supply chain. It shows a continued commitment to trial new climate-smart and modern agriculture solutions by focusing on three areas of impact:
Creating healthy soil while capturing carbon and boosting biodiversity: Andean Cacao has proven that degraded cattle pastureland can be restored to healthy, vibrant soil by using a multi-species, technology-driven agroforestry cocoa model. It is leveraging precision agriculture and tailored irrigation systems to regenerate, initially, 2000+ hectares. Over the last two years, the farm has improved soil organic matter by 11%, thanks to agroforestry and regenerative practices, which will, in turn, contribute to increased carbon sequestration. This is how Andean Cacao plans to impact climate change significantly and strive to produce carbon-neutral cocoa beans.
Improving livelihoods and community resilience: The farm has already created more than 225 job opportunities, with at least 20% filled by women. A $1.5m project with the International Finance Corporation supports Andean Cacao to build modern sustainable farming capabilities and community resilience for neighboring smallholders. For example, today, more than 200 local cacao farmers and their families benefit from capacity building and technical assistance to help them achieve higher price points and improve productivity on their cocoa farms.
Exchanging scientific knowledge and cocoa agronomy innovation to increase productivity: The venture combines 12Tree’s track record of transforming land through regenerative farming practices with Mars Wrigley’s +30 years of research and innovation in cocoa plant science and agronomy and ECOM’s long history of managing agricultural commodities in Latin America. Together they intend to prove new methods, technology, and sustainable farming techniques combined with a modern cocoa agriculture approach for farms to increase yield.
Amber Johnson, global vice president of Cocoa Enterprise at Mars Wrigley, said, “Reshaping the future of cocoa means building a resilient supply chain that protects the planet, improves working conditions, and enables communities to thrive. Piloting modern cocoa agriculture and climate-smart solutions brings a long-term perspective to this quest. I’m excited about the knowledge we will gather through the Andean Cacao venture to apply the best of Modern Sustainable Cocoa Farming elsewhere, to scale learnings, and to continue our journey to create a modern, inclusive, and sustainable cocoa supply.”
Xavier Sagnieres, 12Tree executive, and Andean Cacao, chief executive officer, said, “This groundbreaking partnership will bring further growth to our flagship project and bolster its climate change mitigation and adaptation, biodiversity enhancement, people well-being, and smallholder initiatives. We believe such a partnership can deliver revolutionary sustainable cocoa farming innovations thanks to knowledge sharing, collaboration to modernize agriculture practices, and joint efforts to create a sustainable value chain. We aim to scale a productive and profitable transformative model for growing cocoa while achieving positive environmental and social impact.”
Nicolas de Wasseige, Deputy chief executive officer of ECOM Agrotrade, said, “We are delighted to partner with Mars Wrigley and 12Tree on this exciting project which is a testbed for ideas that can transform the future of cocoa. We can accelerate much-needed change in agricultural practices, environmental impact, and sustainable livelihoods by scaling up this concept and other similar approaches. This project offers great opportunities for smarter collaboration and innovation.”
Mars Wrigley sources from more than 13 countries to create the right cocoa mix for the chocolate portfolio that its consumers love. This venture will continue to build on the company’s Cocoa for Generations strategy and initiatives across West Africa, Latin America, and Indonesia and it will mobilize transformative investment for sustainable land use to continue the journey of reshaping the future supply chain to make sustainable cocoa a reality for the next generation.