Mars Inc. received the U.S. Secretary of State’s 2010 Award for Corporate Excellence (ACE) for its work in cocoa sustainability and efforts to improve economic development in the cocoa-growing region of the Republic of Ghana.
Mars was chosen from a record number of 78 nominations submitted by American ambassadors around the world.
The ACE awards, which were established by the State Department in 1999, are given to honor U.S. businesses that demonstrate good corporate citizenship abroad, and, therefore, have a positive impact on American foreign relations. This is the first time this award has recognized the Republic of Ghana.
“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,” said Grant Reid, president, Mars Global Chocolate. “As a global chocolate leader, we feel it is our responsibility to support the social and economic development of communities and create mutual benefits.”
Cocoa, one of the top 10 global agricultural commodities, is a crucial crop for the economies of many developing nations, and often accounts for a major portion of their GDPs. Globally, there are approximately 6.5 million farmers who depend on cocoa for their livelihoods — most small, family-run farms. Unfortunately, cocoa is also hundreds of years behind most modern crops in terms of cycles of breeding selections that it has gone through. Plants often are fraught with pests and diseases, leading to serious global losses for farmers.
“Through its development and training programs such as Mars Partnership for African Cocoa Communities of Tomorrow (iMPACT), Mars is helping to create jobs for 800,000 farmers, for drivers in the transportation industry and for workers at the ports” said Donald Teitelbaum, U.S. Ambassador to Ghana. “Every one of these jobs helps a Ghanaian farmer, driver, or shipper to pay school fees for his or her children, pay the cost of health care, and to provide other essential services.”
This award also reflects Mars’ larger commitment to cocoa sustainability. Mars has pledged to use 100% certified sustainable cocoa in all of its products worldwide by 2020. From a research perspective, Mars, IBM and the U.S. Department of Agriculture unveiled the preliminary cacao genome sequence in September 2010 — three years ahead of schedule — and made it public to help improve traditional breeding programs and ultimately bolster production to benefit millions of farmers worldwide.