Kraft to Increase Purchases of Rainforest Alliance Certified Cocoa Ten-Fold by 2012

Kraft to Increase Purchases of Rainforest Alliance Certified Cocoa Ten-Fold by 2012

Cocoa beans

Kraft Foods vowed to increase the amount of Rainforest Alliance Certified cocoa beans ten-fold to 30,000 tons by late 2012.

The company has begun rolling out what it called Europe's first mainstream chocolate products that bear the Rainforest Alliance Certified label, beginning in France and Belgium. Its Cote d'Or premium dark chocolate will also hit the shelves in the U.K., Germany, Spain, Hungary, Poland, Portugal, Netherlands, Canada and the U.S.

The seal will also adorn Kraft's Marabou brand in Sweden, Denmark and Finland, in addition to its Suchard brand in Austria and Switzerland.

"I believe we've made a great start," Pascal Bourdin, Kraft's senior vice president and general manager of its European chocolate business, said in a statement Thursday. "My dream is to see every piece of chocolate worldwide made from cocoa from certified farms."{related_content}

Kraft began working with the Rainforest Alliance in 2005 to advance sustainable cocoa production in West Africa's Ivory Coast. The "Market-Oriented Promotion of Sustainable Certified Cocoa Production" project led to six cooperatives representing more than 2,000 farmers attaining the Rainforest Alliance Certified seal. The farmers' incomes also improved, in addition to the health of their crops, the yields of which improved by more than 50 percent in some cases.

The company has also joined forces with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to commit $90 million over five years to increase cocoa and cashew farmer income in Africa.

The Rainforest Alliance aims to change business and land use practices in order to conserve biodiversity and foster sustainable livelihoods. The farms certified by the nonprofit meet the standards of the Sustainable Agriculture Network, covering ecosystem conservation, workers rights, wildlife protection, legal wages and contracts, soil and water conservation, and agrochemical reduction.

Certification of cocoa farms began in Ecuador in 1997. Sales of certified cocoa soared to $16.75 million last year, from $4.5 million in 2007.

Kraft claims it also the largest buyer of coffee from Rainforest Alliance Certified farms, with nearly 30,000 metric tons bought last year.