Organic chocolate maker Green & Black's said it is bolstering its commitment to sustainability by moving its entire global food and beverage range worldwide to Fairtrade.
The chocolate manufacturer, owned by Cadbury since 2005, launched the first ever Fairtrade certified product in the UK - Maya Gold – 15 years ago.
And the company said that packaging of its entire chocolate and beverage line is expected to begin appearing with the Fair Trade mark by late 2010 in the UK and the US, once all current labels have been exhausted to avoid waste.
It is hoped that full conversion of the entire chocolate bar and beverage range in more than 30 countries will be achieved by the end of 2011, added the chocolate maker.
The company said this additional commitment to Fairtrade will mean an investment of more than $485,000 (€349,540) each year over the next 10 years through additional premiums paid to Dominican Republic cocoa farmers and their communities.
Santos Mendoza, president of CONACADO, a co-operative in the Dominican Republic where Green & Black's sources most of its cocoa beans, said that the benefit of Fairtrade was that it enables cocoa farmers and co-operatives to have a say in shaping their future through directly talking and working with retailers and companies.
"Our biggest worry is ensuring that we have a guaranteed market for our cocoa that provides us with a long-term sustainable livelihood.
Through the pricing structure and the Fairtrade premium we will be able to both invest in business and in our community to ensure a brighter future for our families and other farmers,” he added.
In December last year, Nestlé UK moved Kit Kat, its leading confectionery brand, to Fairtrade in the UK and Ireland, with the four-finger version of the brand set to be the first one to carry the Fairtrade mark.
The Kit Kat range makes up approximately 23 per cent of Nestlé Confectionery UK sales so the deal is expected to increase Fairtrade chocolate sales by £43m (€47.5m) annually.
And, in March 2009, Cadbury announced its commitment to source Fairtrade cocoa for its iconic Dairy Milk chocolate bars and drinking chocolate in the British and Irish markets. Sales of Dairy Milk in the UK and Ireland are worth £200m (€214m).
The Fairtrade mark is a label that appears on products as an independent guarantee that disadvantaged producers in poor countries are getting a better deal. For a product to display the Fairtrade Mark it must meet international Fairtrade standards.
To qualify for Fairtrade certification, companies have to pay a minimum price to their suppliers, plus a premium of about $150 (€101) a tonne of cocoa. Based on volume of sales, the companies must also pay a licence fee to the Fairtrade foundation and they need to commit to pledges that no child labour is used in the cocoa production.
This week, Swiss chocolate maker, Barry Callebaut, confirmed strong growth in demand for certified cocoa and chocolate.
Hans Vriens, chief innovation officer at Barry Callebaut, said that while demand for organic certified chocolate has been growing steadily over the past ten years, the company has seen a jump of more than 50 per cent in the demand for Fairtrade certified products in 2009 and an increase of 12 per cent in certified products volume overall.
“These growth rates are significantly ahead of chocolate market growth rates,” he added.