Major European Kraft Chocolate Brands Embrace Rainforest Alliance Certification

October 30, 2009

Chocolate became a little sweeter today as international conservation organization the Rainforest Alliance announced that Kraft Foods has committed to use cocoa beans only from Rainforest Alliance Certified™ farms across its entire Côte d'Or and Marabou lines, equal to some 30,000 ton of beans by end of 2012.

This is a momentous step for the European chocolate market that will not only benefit the environment, but also the lives of the cocoa farmers and their families. Based on pioneering work started in 2005 in the Côte d'Ivoire, Kraft Foods has now launched the first mainstream chocolate products in Europe to carry the Rainforest Alliance Certified™ seal. Starting in France and Belgium, Côte d'Or premium dark chocolate will contain at least 30 percent cocoa from Rainforest Alliance Certified™ farms. Over the coming months, the certified Côte d'Or range will be rolled out to consumers in the United Kingdom, Germany, Spain, Hungary, Poland, Portugal, the Netherlands, Canada and the United States. It will also be available to chocolate lovers in Sweden, Denmark and Finland under the Marabou brand; and using the Suchard brand in Austria and Switzerland. By the end of 2012 all the cocoa in Côte d'Or and Marabou will be sourced from certified farms.

Made with a recipe featuring certified cocoa from Cote d'Ivoire, Ecuador and Dominican Republic, Kraft Foods' chocolate that will carry the Rainforest Alliance Certified™ seal is, in part, the result of an ambitious and successful project that aimed to encourage, promote and support sustainable cocoa farming in Côte d'Ivoire, West Africa.

"One of the challenges of working with cocoa farmers in Côte d'Ivoire and other parts of West Africa, unlike in Latin America, certification is a new concept," said Rainforest Alliancedirector of sustainable landscapes, Edward Millard, who also leads the organisation's cocoa work. "Teaching farmers about the importance of certification, and what's involved in the process requires a good deal of on-the-ground training and education, which, through this project, we have been able to provide."

Cocoa farmers are nearly all smallholders who do not employ many workers. All farms that are Rainforest Alliance Certified™ have met the environmental, social and economic standards of the Sustainable Agriculture Network (SAN). The SAN standards cover ecosystem conservation, worker rights and safety, wildlife protection, water and soil conservation, agrochemical reduction, decent housing, and legal wages and contracts for workers.

Côte d'Or Chocolate Bar

Over two thousand Ivorian farmers and their families are now benefiting from Rainforest Alliance certification. Immediate benefits have included improved yields and significant productivity gains, in some cases even above 50 percent. The incidence of cocoa 'black pod' disease decreased up to one third, and farmer incomes have improved. In the long-term, this will encourage more farmers to work towards achieving certification, which can improve both their livelihoods and the environment they depend on.

Pascal Bourdin, senior vice president of Kraft Foods and general manager of its European chocolate business believes that certified farmed cocoa will provide high-quality cocoa beans over the long term. "Côte d'Or and Marabou are two of our premium chocolate brands. By using certified cocoa, we can continue to offer the most intense chocolate pleasure to our consumers while improving the lives of cocoa farmers and helping secure high-quality cocoa for the longer term."

Rainforest Alliance certification on cocoa farms began in Ecuador in 1997. The organization has successfully worked with farmers there on the adoption of sustainable practices, including growing cocoa under the rainforest canopy to curb deforestation, reducing their use of agrochemicals, protecting wildlife habitat, supporting community projects and improving cocoa quality through better post-harvest management.

Millard went on to say: "We are now seeing the cocoa industry as a whole moving toward a more responsible approach to production. The heightened commitment from Kraft Foods, and the recent commitment from Mars to source Rainforest Alliance Certified™ cocoa, are both indicative of an increasing level of interest industry-wide. Now, companies across the whole supply chain, from cocoa processors to chocolate manufacturers, are showing real interest in certification."

Just like coffee, cocoa can thrive under the shade of the forest canopy, where it supports biodiversity by providing habitat for threatened plant and animal species, protecting natural pollinators and cocoa pest predators, and creating biological corridors. Sales of Rainforest Alliance Certified™ cocoa grew from $4.5 million in 2007 to $16.75 million in 2008.

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