Food giant Kraft is to sell fair trade coffee. The launch of the product, which has been certified by the Rainforest Alliance as being environmentally, socially and sustainable, is a response to growing consumer concern that products should benefit communities that produce the raw materials in the first place.
Other multinational firms have followed suit as public demand for sustainable products grows. The partnership between Kraft and the Rainforest Alliance, which was announced yesterday, is significant in that it shows one the largest coffee sellers responding to calls to pay more heed to social, economic and environmental issues in coffee production.
Kraft has committed itself to increasing the number of purchases of certified coffee, pay more to farmers that employ sustainable farm management practices and deepen its involvement with coffee-producing communities. Sustainable coffee production aims to grow coffee without damaging the environment, with improved social conditions for farmers and workers and in a way that provides farmers with better returns for their coffee.
"We are delighted to partner with the Rainforest Alliance and link our sustainability efforts to a widely respected organisation with an established certification protocol and a strong local presence in major coffee-growing areas," said Annemieke Wijn, Kraft's senior director of commodity sustainability programmes.
Kraft said it has supported sustainable coffee production and coffee farmers for more than a decade in Colombia, Peru, Vietnam and elsewhere.
"This commitment by Kraft Foods is powerful evidence that the concept of sustainable coffee, once limited to niche markets, is ready to enter the mainstream coffee market," said Tensie Whelan, executive director of the Rainforest Alliance.
Kraft's stock price closed unchanged at $30 a share Tuesday on the New York Stock Exchange.