Mars-backed Andean Cacao looks to climate-smart & sustainable cocoa farming

By Anthony Myers

- Last updated on GMT

The Andean Cacao project is part of Mars Wrigley's Cocoa for Generations initiative. Pic: Mars Wrigley
The Andean Cacao project is part of Mars Wrigley's Cocoa for Generations initiative. Pic: Mars Wrigley

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Mars Wrigley is joining forces for a new climate-smart 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 seeks to catalyse sustainable farming, by changing how cocoa is grown and pioneering modern agriculture practices that regenerate soil and positively impact communities. Mars Wrigley said its 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.

The venture will initially focus on regenerating over 2,000 hectares of cattle grazing land in Latin America into a highly productive, sustainable farm with the goal of delivering quality carbon-neutral cocoa beans. Its aim is to improve carbon sequestration, soil health, and biodiversity, create living-wage job opportunities, and support neighbour communities.

Climate-smart & sustainable cocoa farming

Mars Wrigley said the latest venture is part of its Cocoa for Generations strategy to build a modern, inclusive, and sustainable cocoa supply chain.

According to the company, 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
  • Improving livelihoods and community resilience
  • Exchanging scientific knowledge and cocoa agronomy innovation to increase productivity

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." 

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 is also supporting Andean Cacao to build modern sustainable farming capabilities and community resilience for neighbouring smallholders.

The venture combines 12Tree's track record of transforming land through regenerative farming practices with Mars Wrigley's 30-plus years of research and innovation in cocoa plant science and agronomy and ECOM's long history of managing agricultural commodities in Latin America.

Xavier Sagnieres, 12Tree executive and Andean Cacao CEO, 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 CEO 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. By scaling up this concept and other similar approaches, we can accelerate much-needed change in agricultural practices, environmental impact, and sustainable livelihoods. This project offers great opportunities for smarter collaboration and innovation."

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