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Mars says palm-oil use now deforestation-free

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Candy maker severs ties with suppliers that don't meet its social, environmental and ethical expectations.

MCLEAN, Va. — Mars Inc. announced it reached a milestone in its social responsibility efforts after trimming the ranks of palm-oil suppliers that can’t commit to preventing deforestation.

Mars said October 6 that its use of palm oil in a variety of its chocolate confections is no longer contributing to the clearing of tropical forests, a practice known to exacerbate global climate change.

Mars said the milestone is a result of its year-old Palm Positive Plan, which calls for the company to do business only with palm-oil mills committed to Mars’ environmental, social and ethical expectations.

Through its supply chain simplification, Mars will have fewer than 100 palm-oil suppliers by next year, down from a high of 1,500. Plans call for the number to be reduced to 50 by the end of 2022.

“Supply chains – the engines behind global business – are broken. The pandemic has made this even clearer, highlighting the systemic vulnerabilities impacting supply chain communities and health of our planet as well as the urgent need for business to transform buying and supply strategies and practices,” said Business as usual will not drive the transformational change that’s needed,” said Mars CEO Grant Reid. “Business can – and must – be powerful change agents for social and environmental change in order to have resilient, reliable supply chains and a more equitable and sustainable world.”

The company said it had cut ties with two major suppliers and 21 second-tier suppliers for not following its protocols. Mars is using satellite mapping to monitor land use and third-party validation, and said it had mandated that its suppliers apply the same rules to all production, including for other buyers.

“The journey can’t stop here. We at Mars have reached a significant milestone — but in order to extend this impact beyond our own supply, we are asking our suppliers that they apply these principles to all the palm oil that they source not just the material they supply to us,” said Barry Parkin, chief procurement and sustainability officer at Mars. “Through this action, and if adopted by others, we can reach a tipping point to drive systemic change across the entire palm industry.”

In 2017, Mars engaged with its global human rights partner Verité and supplier Wilmar to explore how businesses across the palm-oil supply chain can better understand, address and prevent human rights risks. Mars is now supporting the creation of an open-source set of resources to aid companies to manage human rights issues in extended palm oil supply chains.

The Palm Positive Plan builds on Mars’ work with the Consumer Goods Forum to drive its theory of change, focusing on systemic change through supply chain management and expanding influence beyond its own supply.

It is part of the business’ $1 billion Sustainable in a Generation Plan that guides Mars’ efforts to stop deforestation and degradation in five raw materials identified as having the greatest risks for driving deforestation: beef, cocoa, palm oil, pulp and paper, and soy.


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