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Chocolate Goes Green: Kraft Rolls out Sustainable Sweet Treats

Jace Shoemaker-Galloway | Monday November 2nd, 2009 | 9 Comments

CocoaBeansMove over Willy Wonka, a different type of chocolate will soon be coming to a store near you.

Kraft Foods recently announced it is launching a type of chocolate derived from sustainable cocoa farming.   The premium dark chocolate, Cote d’Or, contains cocoa from farms that meets Rainforest Alliance Certified standards.  Cote d’Or chocolate will first launch in France and Belgium.   The sweet treat will then roll out in Germany, Spain, Hungary, Poland, Portugal, Netherlands, Canada, UK and the US.   The special seal will be added to Kraft’s Marabou chocolate brand in Sweden, Denmark and Finland.  And finally, the sustainable chocolate will be available in Switzerland and Austria under Kraft’s Suchard brand.

Cocoa, Theobroma cacao, is farmed on more than 18 million acres of tropical land.  About 3 million tons of cocoa is produced each year, with about 70 percent coming from West Africa.

Partnering with various businesses, organizations and associations, the Rainforest Alliance encourages the use of sustainable cocoa farming practices which not only help the environment, but help with working conditions. Certification is awarded by an independent international company based on 10 specific ecological, social and economic criteria.

More than 3,000 cocoa farmers in six communities have learned sustainable agricultural practices.  By using such measures, the farmers have healthier crops and higher productivity,  resulting in a higher income and better living condition for families.  Other benefits in using long-term sustainable ag practices include the fair treatment and good working conditions for workers, protection of wildlife, water conservation and rainforest conservation.  A win-win for all!

Kraft has been working with the Rainforest Alliance since 2005.   The company, committed to using beans derived from certified farms, has agreed to purchase 30,000 tons of the Rainforest Alliance Certified sustainable cocoa beans by the end of 2012.  Now, that’s a lot of chocolate!

And Kraft isn’t the only company to jump on the sustainable cocoa band-wagon.  Earlier this year, Mars announced its chocolate products will be made from sustainable sources by 2020.  The company has partnered with Rainforest Alliance for over 10 years.   Cadbury’s Dairy Milk chocolate bars in Britain and Ireland carry the FAIRTRADE seal.   Fairtrade promotes environmentally and socially responsible business practices, including bans on forced labor, including child labor.  The Dairy Milk brand chocolate bars will be certified in Canada, Australia and New Zealand in 2010.

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  • Stuart Smith

    Unfortunately the Rainforest Alliance route is a lot easier than the Fairtrade route. As Kraft try to take over Cadbury – which has gone the FT route – what does this mean for the future of Cadbury if Kraft is successful in their bid. All the more reason for Cadbury to resist.

  • Megan

    This sounds like a great idea. I like the idea of large companies setting an example for others to follow, as well as the idea of teaching and implementing sustainable farming practices in remote and/or developing countries. Of course one needs to see how it plays out!

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  • http://www.sustainlv.org PeterKC

    From what I have been able to find, Rainforest Alliance is a weak certification and only a fraction of the ingredient has to meet the standards. They are particularly weak on social justice issues, and United Students for Fair Trade has published a number of materials that suggest that this is largely a bogus certification used by suppliers who want to avoid real Fair Trade or organic certification. -pkc

  • MichielL

    Hi, i work for Unilever, a multinational company that works with both Fairtrade and Rainforest Alliance. I have worked closely on launches of some of our products that are certified by either RA or FT.

    The comments ‘Rainforest Alliance is a weak certification’ or ‘ a bogus certification’ simply don’t hold any water.

    RA and FT have different objectives and use a different approach. Both schemes have their strengths and weaknesses. They’re complimentary, and both further sustainable development, but in different ways. To say one is better than the other is like saying apples are better than oranges. There are several NGOs that have compared standards- check out the excellent report by the Tropical Commodity Coalition on Coffee http://www.teacoffeecocoa.org/tcc/content/download/373/2644/file/Coffee%20Barometer%202009.pdf or Consumer Reports Greener Choices site http://www.greenerchoices.org/eco-labels/labelLogo.cfm?&pagenumber=4 and you will see that both labels are meaningful and important.

  • MichielL

    I also wanted to add that Both FT and RA are members of ISEAL- which is the de facto gold standard for certification schemes. ( http://www.isealalliance.org/ ) ISEAL has strict rules for the setting of standards, including stakeholder engagement.

    Unfortunately some people see certification schemes as a zero-sum game- if RA wins then FT loses. This is doing a disservice to both schemes. The reality is that we shouldn’t focus on the difference between RA and FT. We should focus on the difference between certified and non-certified goods.

    I think Kraft’s move is a great step forward- thanks for reporting it!

  • http://www.fairtradesports.com Monica Turley

    Large companies like Kraft have more resources than anyone to make the leap to Fair Trade, but only a few do.

    At Fair Trade Sports, they know what Fair Trade stands for, and they live by it.
    Fair Trade Sports offers sports jerseys, soccer balls, rugby balls, frisbees and other sports items that adhere to Fair Trade regulations, with all after-tax profits go to charity. They know the meaning of Fair Trade and prove it.

    To learn more, go to http://www.fairtradesports.com

    Monica Turley
    Email: monica@fairtradesports.com
    Fair Trade Sports

    • http://www.examiner.com/x-3514-Holidays-Examiner Jace Shoemaker-Galloway

      Thank you all for your comments! Much appreciated.

      • MichielL

        feel free to remove my duplicate comment- i got an error message the first time so i posted again.

  • Christina

    Better sweet via a coorporation than not sweet at all. They do have the market presence to make a true difference, keep it up Kraft, work on your other product as well!

    christina

    http://fairworldpartners.com