Mars told Confectionerynews in an update it has been monitoring global COVID-19 developments and working with leading health authorities, local governments, non-governmental organizations, and suppliers in cocoa growing regions to carefully assess the impact of the coronavirus on its business and in its supply chain, including cocoa farmers, their families, and communities.
Examples of Mars’ commitments and actions include:
• A US$5 million donation to CARE International, which, in part, is being used to provide critical supplies and expertise to cocoa-growing communities in Cote d’Ivoire and Ghana
• A $100,000K donation to a World Cocoa Foundation fund to support additional CARE International COVID-19 interventions in West Africa, the Red Cross/Red Crescent in interventions in Indonesia and Brazil, and response efforts by the Lutheran World Relief in Ecuador.
• The donation of personal protective equipment, handwashing buckets, soap, and disinfectant to local governments and healthcare providers in Indonesia.
• The donation of food parcels to residents by the Mars Center for Cocoa Science (MCCS) in Bahia, Brazil, of the nearby rural community of Barro Preto to help ensure food security for residents and their children who lost access to school meals after classes were suspended to stem the spread of the virus.
“When it comes to COVID-19, there is no playbook for a global pandemic. The key is striking the right balance between the short and long term, with the understanding this crisis will pass in time and we will work through this together. Mars is committed to doing its part to protect the health and well-being of its associates, suppliers, cocoa farmers, their families, and communities during this unprecedented time,” a spokesperson for the company said.
In Cote d’Ivoire, Mars said recent activities include improving the protection of 44 cocoa-producing communities against the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic through adoption of healthy behaviors and enhanced livelihood and food security. With CARE and Mars already partnering since 2015 in Cote d’Ivoire, the team was able to launch a ‘fulsome set of COVID-19 response activities’ prior to formal grant approval:
• CARE engaged with Inge Jacobs of Mars Wrigley to review project plans and land on an approach to specific communities.
• The team has widely distributed household hygiene kits, dignity kits, birth kits for women and girls, protection kits, and community hand-washing/hygiene stations across Gueyo, Subre and Meagui.
In Ghana, Mars said it was mitigating the impact of COVID-19 in 60 selected cocoa-growing communities and enhancing the livelihoods of vulnerable cocoa farmer households. Jacobs introduced CARE Ghana to five Mars suppliers on May 14. The CARE team worked with the suppliers individually to identify and agree on 60 targeted communities by the end of June, using a criteria discussed with the suppliers.
Meanwhile, in India, Mars has focused on reducing vulnerability with regard to food, health and nutrition security of women mint farmers and their households, and to strengthen livelihoods practices to recover from the COVID-19 crisis, across all clusters of Mars’ Shubh Mint program.