rainforest alliance

The last two months have seen two of the biggest chocolate industry players announce major ethical certification initiatives.

Cadbury's Dairy Milk bar will be Fairtrade certified in the UK and Ireland by the end of 2009, with plans to convert more of their range, and Mars are working with Rainforest Alliance to sustainably source all their cocoa by 2020, starting with Rainforest Alliance certification for the Galaxy bar in 2010.

To put these announcements in context and explore their significance, we put some questions to Mars and Cadbury, and to three external commentators...

Mars has announced that all its cocoa will be "sustainably sourced" by 2020. Mars is working with the Rainforest Alliance to certify at least some of this cocoa. The first product to bear the Rainforest Alliance mark will be Galaxy Chocolate in the UK and Ireland, beginning in 2010. The company will also go on working with UTZ Certified, which is currently preparing to launch its cocoa certification scheme, focusing initially on Cote d'Ivoire.

Like Cadbury's recent announcement that Dairy Milk would be Fairtrade certified by the end of 2009, the news needs to be put in the context of broadly declining and unstable global cocoa supplies. As Fiona Dawson, managing director of Mars UK, told the Financial Times last week: “Cocoa is a volatile commodity. We want to secure our long-term sourcing.”