A Seal with Wide Appeal
From Poland to Portugal, the Rainforest Alliance Certified™ seal is popping up on an increasing number of products across Europe. Now, finding sustainably harvested goods has become as simple as a trip to your local grocery store or café. For farmers and their families, the proliferation of the seal also means better working conditions, improved access to education and a renewed respect for the environment. A look at a few of the latest certified offerings -- and some of the farms from which they originate...
Since opening its doors in 2008, Amsterdam-based chocolatier Van Velze has crafted 100 percent of its chocolates with Rainforest Alliance Certified cocoa from Tirimbina Biological Reserve in Sarapiquí, Costa Rica. To ring in Easter 2010, Van Velze developed an adorable array of themed cocoa products -- including eggs and bunnies -- bearing the little green frog seal.
Building on a commitment to purchase its entire cocoa supply from sustainable sources by 2020, Mars unveiled its Galaxy chocolate bar with the Rainforest Alliance Certified seal in January 2010. Each year, some 160 million Galaxy bars are sold across the UK-- the sale of these bars translates into social, environmental and economic benefits for cocoa farming communities throughout West Africa.
The first mainstream chocolate brand in Europe with the certified seal, Kraft's Côte d'Or line of specialty chocolates is available in Belgium, France, Germany, Spain, Hungary, Poland, Portugal and the Netherlands. It's not the only Kraft brand working toward sustainability: Sweden's most popular dark chocolate brand -- Marabou -- is also crafted with certified cocoa. By 2012, all of Côte d'Or and Marabou's cocoa will come from certified farms, equaling some 30,000 tons of beans.
In 2009, Tchibo launched Rarität Machare, a limited edition coffee from Machare Estate in Tanzania. Winner of the Rainforest Alliance's December 2009 'Cupping for Quality,' Machare Estate is committed to producing high quality beans through sustainable farming. Continuing its line of special edition 'Rarität' single origin coffees, Tchibo recently began offering Rarität Las Marias -- a coffee harvested on an El Salvadorian farm of the same name.
A registered charity in the UK, Cool Earth recently launched its own brand of Rainforest Alliance Certified instant coffee. For every jar bought, Cool Earth vows to protect a critically endangered tree in the Amazon rainforest. Looking for another instant coffee option? ASDA -- the UK's second largest supermarket chain -- is now selling a coffee sourced from certified farms in Brazil's Minas Gerais region.
Unilever's commitment to source 100 percent of its tea from sustainable origins by 2015 has reverberated throughout the industry -- and no doubt inspired commitments from other important tea players. Its certified offerings include PG tips, the UK's leading tea brand, which now contains exclusively Rainforest Alliance Certified tea leaves, and Lipton Yellow Label, available across continental Europe.
Located near India's Kaziranga National Park, Behora tea estate supplies Unilever with quality leaves. The estate, a haven for local elephants, has undergone a number of important changes in order to earn Rainforest Alliance certification. Among them: developing a comprehensive and effective emergency plan to help employees in case of accidental pesticide ingestion, planting greenery to separate tea fields from public roads and worker housing, and ensuring proper waste management.
Two of the UK's most popular tea brands -- Yorkshire Tea and Twinings Everyday -- have also made the move toward certified content. By 2015, 100 percent of Twinings' tea will come from Rainforest Alliance Certified farms that conserve water, wildlife and wild lands, and ensure the well-being of local communities.
The seal has made its mark in Europe -- and it's not stopping there. Be sure to look for it wherever you shop. Can't find it? Talk to a store manager about stocking certified goods. There's a good chance they'll listen.