Rainforest certified sales top £500m

Posted: 31 October 2007

One of the more positive hopes for the future lies in the growth of fair trade around the world. The latest example comes from the Rainforest Alliance which annnounced earlier this month that annual sales of its certified products had reached £500m.

Sales of its certified, sustainable coffee, bananas and chocolate surpassed US$1 billion in 2006 and the growth is projected to continue, which is good news for Rainforest ecosystems and sustainable livelihoods.

Increasing consumer demand for sustainable products has helped sustain rapid growth of certification in coffee, forestry and other crops. Sales of coffee from certified farms has almost doubled each year since 2003 from 7 million pounds to 54.7 million pounds in 2006; sales in 2007 are projected to exceed 91 million pounds*.

Announcing the figures, Chris Wille, Chief of Sustainable Agriculture, said: "The UK has been at the forefront of global demand for sustainably grown goods and companies large and small are responding by putting sustainability at the heart of their sourcing strategies. These commitments are delivering real benefits to more than a million farm workers and their families as well as the environment on which they depend."

Among the highlights in 2007 are:

  • Good Natured juice launches this month made from oranges from the Rainforest Alliance Certified Del Oro farm in Costa Rica;

  • McDonald's* restaurants switch to Rainforest Alliance Certified coffee from Kenco;

  • Unilever*, the world's largest tea company, announces its plans to source its entire global tea supply from certified sustainable sources. The first tea from the Rainforest Alliance Certified Kericho Estate in Kenya was launched in August for the Away from Home market;

  • Morrisons in-store cafes are serving Rainforest Alliance Certified coffee*;

  • Lyons Original and Decaffeinated* roast and ground coffee converts to 100 per cent Rainforest Alliance Certified;

  • Kraft's Kenco Pure and Kenco Sustainable Development range of instant coffees is the top selling instant ethically sourced brand with 25.5 per cent share of the ethical market;

  • Pret a Manger sources Rainforest Alliance Certified coffee, as part of their triple certified ethical coffee offering.

Improved cooperation

By August 2007 the Rainforest Alliance had certified 14,892 small family farms, plantations and cooperatives in 14 countries putting 752,712 acres (304,742 hectares) of farmland and associated ecosystems under sustainable management and benefiting more than 1.5 million farmers, farm workers and their families. The forestry programme has certified 104 million acres (42 million hectares) of forestland.

Chris Wille said: "Our work in the last twenty years has not only helped conserve vast areas of forestland and other natural resources worldwide. It has also catalysed cooperation between former adversaries: environmentalists and big business. We've encouraged the emergence of a more environmentally and socially responsible corporate culture, which in turn is helping tip global markets towards sustainable practices."

Rainforest Alliance certification works with a network of specialist non-profit sustainable agriculture organisations - the Sustainable Agriculture Network - to create rigorous, independent standards for environmental and social sustainability, including habitat and ecosystem conservation, reforestation, integrated pest management, worker protection, access to medical care, education, and community investment. Producers that meet the standards obtain Rainforest Alliance certification, and earn the right for their products to bear the Rainforest Alliance Certified seal.

The Alliance plans to expand its work to include sustainable cattle ranching and the sustainable production of palm oil, sugar and other biofuel crops.