Mars Inc has pledged to sustainably source 100% of its rice by 2020.

The Uncle Ben's owner announced what it called "the first global standard for sustainable rice", a move made in partnership with the Sustainable Rice Platform, a global alliance of agricultural research institutions, agri-food businesses, public sector and civil society organizations, which is convened by the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) and the International Rice Research Institute.

The standard consists of a set of criteria for sustainable rice cultivation that can be used globally to reduce the environmental footprint of rice production and improve the lives of rice farmers. The standard consists of 46 requirements organised under eight broad topics, including productivity, food safety, worker health, labour rights, and biodiversity.

Mars plans to will use the standard as a benchmark against which to assess its rice supply chains – identifying where there are gaps and developing strategies to improve sustainability. It has already begun piloting implementation of the standard with rice farmers in Pakistan and India.

"Caring for our environment as well as our entire supply chain from end-to-end is more than usual corporate responsibility. It's an imperative for Mars Food," said Fiona Dawson, president of the group's non-confectionery Mars Food business unit. "Through the global standard, we hope to create benefits for all involved from the farmers to our consumers.  The benefit for us is that is that we are ensuring premium quality rice, whilst also ensuring a higher income for farmers, and a better environment for current and future generations. It is a truly mutual solution."