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Mars Chocolate grows use of sustainable cocoa

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By the end of this year, Mars Chocolate, in Hackettstown, expects to be the largest user of certified cocoa in the world.

The company announced Thursday it had accomplished a goal of purchasing 10 percent of its cocoa — roughly 30,000 tons — from sustainable sources in 2011, and it expects to purchase 90,000 tons of sustainable cocoa in 2012.

Three years ago, Mars pledged to purchase all its cocoa from sustainable sources by 2020, when it is expected that demand will far outweigh supply for the sweet treat. In order to achieve higher yields of cocoa, Mars and its partners are working to do research on cocoa plants, apply technology and new agricultural methods to the millions of small individual cocoa farms, and use certification to make sure best practices are followed.

Through three organizations — the Rainforest Alliance, Fairtrade International and UTZ Certified — a set of standards are used to verify that cocoa farmers are using best sustainability practices.

"A successful certification program is so important to our effort because it is the most effective tool we currently have to reach millions of cocoa farmers at scale," said Barry Parkin, head of global procurement and sustainability, in the company's announcement. "It took a lot of hard work from farmers, certifiers and others along the supply chain to meet this milestone, and we are pleased to see their energy paying off."

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