The ACE awards were established in 1999 to recognize American companies worldwide that make positive contributions to local communities, thereby improving foreign relationships. This year, Mars was chosen from among 78 companies nominated by US ambassadors around the world.
Speaking at a presentation ceremony in Washington D.C. on Friday, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said: “Mars was selected because of the company’s special relationship with the cocoa farmers of Ghana. Mars has supported the Sustainable Tree Corps and helped in developing the Cocoa Livelihoods Program to evaluate the cocoa sector of Ghana and other regions. Mars works to raise awareness of the importance of reducing child labor and protecting workers at every level of the cocoa value chain from the fields to the factories. And by 2020, Mars has committed to certify its entire cocoa supply – all 250,000 tons a year – as sustainable.”
Ghana is the world’s second largest supplier of cocoa after the Ivory Coast, with the two countries’ outputs combined providing about half of the world’s cocoa supply, according to FAOSTAT figures.
Among its particular strategies in Ghana, Mars has made efforts to improve farming methods, sensitize communities against child labor, and promote sustainable cocoa production, the company said.
President of Mars Global Chocolate Grant Reid said: "We are honored to receive this award. The farmers in Ghana play an essential role in the world's cocoa business, so working to improve their livelihood is an important step in fostering a vibrant industry at all levels of production. As a global chocolate leader, we feel it is our responsibility to support the social and economic development of communities and create mutual benefits."
Two other companies received ACE awards alongside Mars: Denimatrix, a textile and apparel company, for its work in Guatamala; and the computer networking company Cisco, for helping to connect the Israeli and Palestinian economies and people.