News briefs: Fairtrade, sugar surplus and Mars community plan

By Linda Rano

- Last updated on GMT

Fairtrade is working to improve UK market share for its accredited
chocolate makers, the forecast for global sugar surplus is revised
upwards, and Mars unwraps its social responsibility credentials.

Fairtrade Foundation working to increase chocolate market share ​ The Fairtrade Foundation is planning to boost its share of the chocolate market to reach more than 10 per cent by 2012, according to the organisation's recent report Tipping the Balance​. It also pledged to help develop the market for other accredited food and drink products where the current market share is still below 5 per cent. To achieve these targets the foundation intends to work with businesses to ensure more companies sell Fairtrade products and to harness the knowledge and skills of key companies. The Foundation also said that it would do more to promote the role of dedicated fair trade businesses as examples of best practice and pioneers of Fairtrade innovation. The organisation hopes that by 2012, three-quarters of British shoppers will recognise the Fairtrade mark and its significance. A Fairtrade Foundation survey published in May this year suggested that 70 per cent of people recognise the Fairtrade mark this year compared with 57 per cent last year. The same survey also showed that awareness of Fairtrade chocolate rose from 24 per cent of respondents last year to 32 per cent in 2008. Awareness of Fairtrade sugar among the UK public had doubled from 6 per cent last year to 12 per cent in 2008. Global Sugar Supply ​ Swiss sugar and biofuels consultants Kingsman has forecast global sugar production in 2008/09 at 166.3m tonnes compared with 170.4m in 2007/08. Consumption is estimated at 163m tonnes compared with 159.13m in 2007/08. The United Nations' Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) estimated in its latest Food Outlook report, published last month,​ that world sugar production for 2007/08 would reach 168m tonnes. Global sugar consumption in 2007/08 was estimated at 158.2m tonnes. According to Reuters, Kingsman on Friday revised up its forecast for the 2008/09 global sugar surplus to 3.29m tonnes from a previous forecast of 2.86m tonnes. The global sugar surplus for 2007/08 is forecast at 11.34m tonnes, up from 9.13m tonnes. "Compared to the 2007/08 final estimate issued last week (surplus 11.34m tonnes) the 2008/09 surplus appears small​", said Kingsman, according to Reuters. Mars targets weeklong US responsibility drive ​ Mars is promoting its social responsibility credentials this week by encouraging 12,000 of its North American employees to take part on volunteer projects across the country. As part of the confectioner's Mars Volunteer Program Week, factory and office workers from its operations will be permitted to devote work time to local community projects. The initiative signals a continued push by food and beverage manufacturers to show a more caring side to their operations amid consumer cynicism particularly towards multinational companies, Youth enrichment, hunger relief, animal welfare and the environment are the four areas that Mars says it hopes to improve through local communities as part of the scheme. Examples of these projects given by the company include animal shelter refurbishment in Tennessee and campground repair work in New Jersey. Dismissing suggestions that the initiative is a PR gimmick, the company insists the project reflects it long-term commitment to improve local environments in the region. "MarsNorth Americais unique,"​ stated group corporate communications director Alice Nathanson. "Our principles aren't something that are written down and forgotten; they are a part of the fabric of how we live and work every day."

Related topics: Mars, Commodities, Cocoa & Sugar, Ingredients

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