Fair Trade and Rainforest Alliance Coffee Certification Booming

While the term fair trade regularly comes up in coffee shop conversations, I rarely hear of organizations speaking about purchasing Rainforest Alliance certified coffee beans.

However, according to a recent article released by Reuters and published on the Scientific American, more big name corporations are purchasing the certified coffee and causing the sales from Rainforest Alliance certified farms to soar. IN the past year alone, sales have increased nearly 18 percent.

According to the Reuters article, the Rainforest Alliance owes partial thanks to McDonald’s:

Rainforest Alliance attributed much the growth in the coffee it certified in 2012 to significant quantities being purchased by large companies such as McDonald’s Corp’s U.S. and Canadian operations, Caribou Coffee Co In, Second Cup, Green Mountain Coffee Roasters Inc and Nespresso. McDonald’s USA recently began sourcing 100 percent of its espresso from Rainforest Alliance Certified farms, the organization said.

The Rainforest Alliance’s goals are to conserve the rainforest by promoting various levels of sustainability, to promote plant growth, and to limit drastic changes to the surrounding eco-systems. The certification also tries to limit child labor on the farms. Despite the good qualities, only 30 percent of the coffee package sold needs to meet Rainforest Alliance standards.

So it seems the increase is due to consumers and companies realizing that the coffee they purchase does indeed impact the world we live in.

Daily Coffee News recently reported this story and discovered the same cause:

The nonprofit agency (Rainforest Alliance) announced last week that coffee produced on its certified farms last year reached 375,000 metric tons, representing 4.5 percent of total global production.

“By choosing to source coffee from Rainforest Alliance Certified farms, companies are having demonstrable impacts on the ground, conserving natural resources and improving the lives and livelihoods of farm communities,” Tensie Whelan, president of the Rainforest Alliance, said in an announcement of the 2012 figures. “More companies are realizing that sustainable certification also makes good business sense, ensuring long-term viability of supply-chains.”

The rise in consumption of ethically sourced coffee is nothing new to the coffee world, or even to The Caffeinated Consumer, but it is a trend that has steadily gained more and more interest and followers over the years.

And when looking at the benefits, it should continue to rise in popularity.

According to the reporting done by Reuters:

“Over 118,000 coffee farms covering almost 800,000 acres are now Rainforest Alliance Certified and meet rigorous standards for best practices and environmental and social sustainability,” Rainforest Alliance said in a release last week.

Coffee is not the only commodity certified by Rainforest Alliance that has become increasingly popular. Global production of its certified tea rose to 11.5 percent in 2012, up from 9.4 percent in 2011 and 3.2 percent in 2010, a Rainforest Alliance spokeswoman said.

When looking at the numbers, and the steady increase of major corporations switching to Fair Trade and Rainforest Alliance certified coffee, it is safe to say that we have not seen the last of ethically farmed coffee in our daily morning mugs.

Did you know that you were drinking Rainforest Alliance certified coffee nearly every time you grab that oh-so-sugary caramel frappe from McDonalds? I didn’t; But somehow I feel better knowing my chain coprotartion coffee is not farmed by a young child working in unsafe conditions.


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