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New Products Bring Social and Environmental Change to Supermarkets

CINCINNATI - After launching its Signature Collection online and through phone orders in September 2003, Procter & Gamble's Millstone Coffee brand is introducing two of these specialty coffees to be sold at grocery and retail stores throughout the country starting this fall.

Millstone Organic Mountain Moonlight (Fair Trade-certified) and Millstone Rainforest Reserve (Rainforest Alliance-certified) roasts are gourmet coffees that also support the economic, social, and environmental needs of coffee-growing communities.

This launch will make Millstone one of the largest gourmet coffee roasters to sell Fair Trade-certified coffee in retail stores and the first and only major roaster to sell Rainforest Alliance-certified coffee nationwide at mainstream grocery stores, according to P&G.

The roasts have been certified by TransFair USA and the Rainforest Alliance -- two of the recognized certification organizations. Fair Trade Certification ensures that coffee-growing communities are paid a fair, living wage. Rainforest Alliance Certification works to protect the environment.

"Fair Trade- and Rainforest Alliance-certified products have an audience in all consumers," Cheryl Roth, co-founder of OrganicWorks Marketing, told Progressive Grocer. "These organizations have allowed consumers to speak their minds by voting with their dollars to preserve and protect beliefs that are important to them, along with our sustainable resources."

Since the launch of the Signature Collection last September, online and phone sales have been building momentum. The growing consumer response is prompting further expansion of distribution into mass merchandisers and grocers throughout the country.

These roasts are an answer to a growing trend in consumer demand for products that contribute to the global social and environmental good. "Just as the demand for organic and natural products has expanded into mainstream grocery, so is the concept that we have to pay closer attention to what happens from the harvest to the sales," said Roth. "The need to protect what we have now and ensure future generations is something we are all faced with whether you are a core natural supermarket shopper or a mainstream grocery shopper."

Each of the two roasts will be sold in 10-ounce pre-pack whole bean form and will come in packaging unique to the Signature Collection and distinguishable from other premium Millstone coffee packaging. The roasts will be marked to show certification -- either as Fair Trade- and organic-certified (Mountain Moonlight) or as Rainforest Alliance-certified (Rainforest Reserve).

Fair Trade certification is a guarantee to consumers that family farmers receive a fair price -- significantly higher than average -- for their exceptional coffees, enabling millions of farming families worldwide to stay on their land, keep food on the table, and keep their children in school. Fair Trade assures quality from crop to cup with strict criteria for social and environmental standards. The Fair Trade model is backed by an internationally recognized monitoring system that has operated for more than 16 years worldwide.

Rainforest Alliance is a leading certifier of sustainable coffee and evaluator of farms according to its rigorous environmental and social standards. Working through local conservation organizations, the Rainforest Alliance applies a set of principles developed around the three pillars of sustainable agriculture: environmental protection, human welfare, and economic viability. Every bag of Millstone Rainforest Alliance-certified coffee comes from farms that promote healthy ecosystems, protect forests and rivers, ensure soil and water quality, and are vital refuges for wildlife.

In addition to visiting coffee farms annually to inspect these environmental guidelines, the Rainforest Alliance also requires the following for all workers: minimum wage or above, adequate housing, and access to education, medical care, public transportation, and recreational facilities.

According to OrganicWorks Marketing's Roth, there is a significant increase in such environmental and sustainable products on the market today. "Sambazon is a company that hails from the Brazilian Amazon to import exotic fruits from the rainforest," she said. "Along with organically growing their palmberry fruit, known as Acai, they are proving the Triple Bottom Line business model of achieving economic, social and environmental success.

"Companies like Sambazon successfully branded conservation as cool and are not afraid to push the envelope by emphasizing the concept that companies need to be serving public good, and not just increasing shareholder wealth, reverentially proving that you can gain the world without losing your soul," continued Roth. "That trend is happening here, too."

For more about trends in the mainstreaming of organics at retail, see Progressive Grocer's September 1 issue.
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