Image of a cocoa pod on a tree

The Heart of CocoaVia® brand.

Indonesia is a vast and beautiful 17,000-island country in Southeast Asia. It is at the heart of the CocoaVia® brand because it is the source of the cocoa beans used in our patented Cocoapro® process.

To make the cocoa extract found in CocoaVia® supplement, the team at Mars, Incorporated had to develop strong, mutually beneficial ties to a cocoa-growing community to ensure access to the freshest cocoa beans possible.

In most of the cocoa world, farmers harvest their cocoa pods and dry the beans in the sun before selling them. Cocoa flavanols are delicate phytonutrients that are especially sensitive to heat and humidity. Thus, this traditional drying process can destroy cocoa flavanols. As a result, the team at Mars, Inc. had to develop a new way of collecting cocoa beans. The key to that was developing strong relationships with cocoa farmers. The cocoa beans that are used to make our cocoa extract are purchased from cocoa farmers within just a few hours of harvest and a few miles from the cocoa farms. Farmers are paid a premium for their freshest, highest-quality beans.  

Cultivating Farmer Connections.

This need for the freshest cocoa beans brought the team in direct contact with the farmers, and with the farmers’ families. The team at Mars, Incorporated and the cocoa farmers created a win/win partnership: Mars, Inc. helps the farmers produce high-quality cocoa by educating them in sustainable farming practices that foster healthier farms and trees. This helps farmers increase their incomes, leading to improvements in overall quality of life. In exchange, the farmers help Mars, Inc. secure the best and most fresh cocoa for its flavanol-based products, like CocoaVia® supplement.

Fostering Education.

With more productive farms and higher incomes, cocoa farming families have seen meaningful improvements in their quality of life. Farmers are better able to feed and educate their children – but education can take children away from the farms into the cities. The team at Mars, Inc. recognized that it needed not only a steady supply of quality cocoa, but also a steady supply of smart young farmers who see a prosperous future in cocoa.

So Mars, Inc. established a demonstration farm on which new and experienced farmers could learn best agricultural practices. It hired a field facilitator to spread those practices, visiting farms and offering guidance throughout the cocoa-growing community. It identified new ways for farmers to earn money, such as running nurseries for new cocoa trees and creating compost from the husks of harvested cocoa pods.

Mars, Inc. got even more involved with education by funding a school for 15-17-year-olds in the area of Bone Bone (pronounced Bone-ay Bone-ay), on the island of Sulawesi. This school goes well beyond reading, writing and arithmetic, adding cocoa to the syllabus. The school has a cocoa farm and cocoa curriculum, with exams on cocoa farming. The students teach their parents, and many are hired by Mars, Inc. and other cocoa companies to be field facilitators, run village cocoa centers and sell grafting material, and be cocoa farming experts in their communities. They are recruited throughout the industry, and this keeps good minds and talent in the countryside, further enhancing the region’s cocoa growing capabilities.

Mars, Inc. added a water tower, sanitation facilities and a library to the Bone Bone school, and the school has grown from 200 students to 1,500; money earned from cocoa has added five new classrooms, and cocoa curriculums are being rolled out in other schools.

A Bright Future for Cocoa.

The team at Mars, Inc. and CocoaVia® continue to invest in the cocoa growing communities in Indonesia and have made the long-term commitment to creating a prosperous, sustainable future in cocoa farming for generations to come.