Mars has achieved a deforestation-free palm oil supply chain as a result of reducing its suppliers drastically under its ‘Palm Positive Plan’.
Through its Palm Positive Plan – launched last year – Mars has simplified its supply chain by reducing the number of mills it sources from. It is awarding longer-term contracts only to suppliers who can commit to its environmental, social and ethical expectations.
The progress is made possible by taking its mill count from 1,500 to fewer than 100 by 2021, and Mars says it is on the path to further halve that in 2022. With fewer suppliers, Mars claims it is easier to verify that the providers are meeting its environmental and ethical goals.
The US confectionery giant is also using satellite mapping to monitor land-use with third-party validation through its partnership with sustainable consultancy firm, Aidenvironment, and its Indonesian spin-off, Earth Equalizer. This enables Mars to take evidence-based action to simplify and select the suppliers and mills it sources from.
Mars gives an example of its supply chain to its Asia-Pacific businesses, where it is now sourcing from UniFuji which has reduced operations from 780 mills to just one. This has reportedly been met through a 1:1:1 model, meaning that palm is grown on one plantation, processed through one mill and one refinery before reaching Mars.
The company’s progress marks a significant step in its efforts to tackle deforestation and advance respect for human rights, and builds on Mars’ $1 billion ‘Sustainable in a Generation’ plan.
“By radically simplifying our palm supply chain, partnering with a smaller cohort of suppliers and rigorously applying the three M’s of Mapping, Management and Monitoring, we can eliminate deforestation and advance respect for human rights,” said Barry Parkin, chief procurement and sustainability officer at Mars.
He added: “The journey can’t stop here. We at Mars have reached a significant milestone – but in order to extend this impact beyond our own supply, we are asking our suppliers that they apply these principles to all the palm oil that they source, not just the material they supply to us. Through this action, and if adopted by others, we can reach a tipping point to drive systemic change across the entire palm industry.”