Fair Trade USA, Rainforest Alliance coffee certification soars
* Canada, U.S. Fair Trade coffee imports up 18 pct in 2012
* Rainforest Alliance certified coffee output at 4.5 pct
NEW YORK, April 19 (Reuters) - Coffee beans from farms certified as environmentally and socially responsible by Fair Trade USA and Rainforest Alliance reached a record high in 2012.
Production of Rainforest Alliance certified coffee reached 4.5 percent of global output in 2012, or 375,000 tonnes (827 million lbs), up from 3.3 percent in 2011 and a slight 1.5 percent in 2009, the New York-based organization said.
Fair Trade certified imports to the United States and Canada rose to a record high in 2012 of 163 million lbs, up 18 percent from 2011, Oakland, California-based Fair Trade USA said.
Rainforest Alliance and Fair Trade USA, both non-profit organizations, train farmers and certify farms according to criteria that include agricultural practices that are less environmentally harmful and better quality of life for workers. The certified coffee fetches a premium, which is typically passed along to the customer.
Fair Trade USA's record U.S. imports equated to an additional $32 million in what the organization calls "community development premiums" earned by farming communities, it said in a release last week.
Fair Trade Certified U.S. coffee attracted 60 new importers and roasters last year, while 50 new products were launched.
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.
"Over 118,000 coffee farms covering almost 800,000 acres (323,500 hectares) 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.
Rainforest Alliance certified cocoa production soared to 10 percent of global output from 2.7 percent in 2011. Bananas made up 15 percent of global production in 2012, she added.
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