There’s a RiteAid next door I visit on occasion, and about the only green products I’ve found there are Green & Blacks organic chocolate bars -- a somewhat bittersweet benefit of the fact that Green & Blacks was bought up by choco-giant Cadbury, which has recently been bought up by Kraft. Only one Green & Blacks’ flavor, however is currently fair trade certified, which means that as a general supporter of fair trade and its certification system, I’ve tasted a lot more of the orange-flavored, fair trade-certified Maya Gold bar than any of the other flavors I’ve wanted to try.

That’s about to change. Late last month, Green & Blacks announced that it would switch to fair trade ingredients for all its products worldwide. In the U.S., Green & Blacks chocolate bars will start being made with fair trade certified ingredients mid-year.

Green & Blacks’ move to fair trade may seem like a brand new initiative, especially to those who’ve thought the company’s single fair trade certified product showed only a token commitment to ethical sourcing. In fact, the story’s a lot more complicated. Green & Blacks’ Maya Gold bar was actually the first fair trade certified product in the U.K., but apparently the choco company had a fallout of sorts with Fairtrade Federation, the certifying organization for fair trade products in the U.K.

Craig Sams, one of the founders of Green & Blacks, goes into more detail about Green & Black’s history with fair trade certification in a 2006 interview on City Hippy. There, Craig says Green & Blacks’ commitment to fair trade practices has never wavered:

We have never changed the way we do business. We always pay fair prices, deal with democratic cooperatives, support our growers with long term contracts, give them cash up front if they need it to pay the cooperative members, help them on maintaining organic standards.
In the same interview, Craig goes on to say that the conflicts Green & Blacks had with Fairtrade Federation happened “several years ago and I think that things have changed and are changing.” Apparently, things have changed enough to reunite the choco company with the fair trade nonprofit now.

This is good news for last minute Valentine’s Day shoppers who'll be able to grab soon-to-be-fair-trade-certified Green & Blacks bars at pretty much every store near them, though I'm guessing some hardcore eco-ethical foodies will still be loath to buy anything owned by Kraft. Expect to see fair trade certification logos on 100% of Green & Blacks chocolate bars in the U.S. by the end of this year.

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