Kraft Foods has said that its premium Cote d'Or chocolate brand will convert to the use of sustainable cocoa beans.

Beginning in France and Belgium, Cote d'Or dark chocolate will contain cocoa sourced from farms that meet Rainforet Alliance sustainability standards. This programme will then be rolled out in the UK, Germany, Spain, Hungary, Poland, Portugal, the Netherlands, Canada and the United States.

The brand will be the "first mainstream chocolate" to carry the Rainforest Alliance Certified seal, the US food giant claimed today (29 October).

Additionally, in Sweden, Denmark and Finland, Kraft's Marabou brand will convert to sustainable cocoa, while in Austria and Switzerland the Suchard brand will use Rainforest Alliance certified cocoa.

By 2012, Kraft said that it would use certified cocoa in the production of its entire Cote d'Or and Marabou ranges, increasing the amount of sustainable cocoa it purchases ten-fold to 30,000 tonnes.

The move, Kraft said, builds on its long-standing collaboration with the Rainforest Alliance. Since 2005, Kraft has worked with the Rainforest Alliance to support sustainable cocoa production in West Africa.

Pascal Bourdin, SVP of Kraft Foods and general manager of its European chocolate business, said that sustainably farmed cocoa will provide high quality cocoa beans over the long term.

"Cote d'Or and Marabou are two of our premium chocolate brands. By using sustainably grown Ivorian cocoa, we can continue to offer the most intense chocolate pleasure to our consumers while improving the lives of cocoa farmers and helping secure high quality cocoa for the longer term," he commented.

Edward Millard, director for sustainable landscapes at the Rainforest Alliance, added that taking Rainforest Alliance Certified cocoa to mainstream brands is key to making a "real difference".

"Our collaboration with Kraft Foods and grassroots groups in Cote d'Ivoire will result in long-term, positive changes in the lives of cocoa farmers, their families, communities and the ecosystems on which they depend," he claimed.