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Chain of Custody Certification for Agricultural Products

As a company committed to sourcing from certified sources, you want confidence in the claim you make about your product. That’s why Chain of Custody (CoC) is an essential component of any sustainability certification system. CoC is the process of tracking a product from a certified farm through the various stages of trading, manufacturing and warehousing to assure the end consumer that the claim being made on the product accurately reflects the certified content or sourcing of that product. This protects the credibility of the Rainforest Alliance Certified™ seal, which marks the product as one that has been responsibly produced.

The Sustainable Agriculture Network (SAN) and the Rainforest Alliance have developed an innovative CoC system that establishes risk as the fundamental criteria for the type and frequency of audits for companies sourcing from Rainforest Alliance Certified farms.

Learn more about the process below. To determine your Chain of Custody requirements, complete our online Chain of Custody Risk Assessment questionnaire.

A company that takes physical and/or legal possession of a product originating from a Rainforest Alliance Certified farm and makes promotional, on-package or sales claims regarding the certified status of these products must go through the Rainforest Alliance CoC process. The unique aspect of our scheme is that the process is calibrated to the level and type of risk.

The keystone of the new risk-based approach is the CoC Risk Assessment (CRA). Companies that have a higher potential for mixing non-certified products with certified products will generally score as higher risk, while companies that source or offer exclusively Rainforest Alliance Certified products, or that don’t mix or blend at all, are treated as lower risk. Companies also receive credit (a reduction in risk rating) for achieving high levels of compliance with Rainforest Alliance guidelines and policies, as well as for having passed the audits of other credible certification programs. In addition, companies sourcing small volumes of certified products—for whom the cost of an audit would not be justified by the sales of their certified products, and whose limited activities pose a minimal credibility risk to the Rainforest Alliance trademark—will be treated as very low risk and exempted from audits completely once they are found to be in compliance with the Rainforest Alliance’s traceability, licensing and use-of-seal guidelines and policies.

Once the risk category has been determined, the company or operation will comply with the corresponding audit schedule over the three-year CoC certification cycle:

RISK CATEGORY Certification Audit 1st Annual Audit 2nd Annual Audit
Very low risk No audit
Low risk On-site audit No audit No audit
Medium risk On-site audit Desk audit No audit
High risk On-site audit On-site audit Desk audit
  1. Companies that are new to the process and have just recently decided to purchase products from Rainforest Alliance Certified farms must register in Marketplace, our traceability and trademark portal.
  2. Upon registering, you will receive an email with a password for Marketplace, as well as general information, including information on SAN/Rainforest Alliance Chain of Custody certification (CoC).
  3. After registering in Marketplace, companies that fall within the scope of our Chain of Custody Policy will be in touch with our Claims, Traceability and Trademarks team to complete a Chain of Custody Risk Assessment (CRA).
  4. The CRA consists of a series of questions about the company’s operations. The results of each CRA will be reviewed by RA staff and compared to our records of these company’s compliance with traceability, trademarks and licensing requirements.
  5. Companies will receive their risk result (very low, low, medium or high risk) and instructions on next steps. For companies receiving a very low risk result they will receive the CoC Endorsement. For companies receiving a low, medium or high risk result they shall contact a Certification Body to achieve CoC Certification within 12 months of receiving their risk result. It is important for companies to work with our Traceability and Trademarks teams in order to comply with CoC Certification.
  6. Certification Bodies will provide a budget for the certification audit and work with you to schedule the audit. The audit will be based on the SAN/Rainforest Alliance CoC Standard and Policy. The auditor will review the companies' applicable systems for Management, Traceability, Trademarks (when applicable) and Multi-site criteria (when applicable).
  7. If the compliance and audit results are positive, and all relevant certification or endorsement payments and agreements have been finalized, then the company will be issued a CoC certificate or endorsement. Each company is expected to maintain its systems and continue compliance with Traceability and Trademark requirements in order to maintain their certification.
  8. For any questions, please contact our Claims, Traceability and Trademarks division at agcoc@ra.org.

List of Certification Bodies

Below you will find a list of the Accredited Certification Bodies and the countries where they currently hold CoC Certificates. If you do not see your country appear please contact the CB with the closest geographic certificate to inquire about certification. For questions or inquiries related to farm/group certification please see http://san.ag/web/our-work/get-certified/. Please contact agcoc@ra.org with any additional questions.

  1. AfriCert
    Contact: jmaundu@africertlimited.co.ke
    Countries: Cameroon, Ghana, Ivory Coast, Kenya, Rwanda, South Africa, Tanzania
  2. CERES
    Contact: findel@ceres-cert.com
    Countries: Germany, Nicaragua, Peru
  3. CyDcert
    Contact: gerencia@cydinternacional.com
    Countries: Chile, Ecuador
  4. IBD
    Contact: gwendal@ibd.com.br
    Countries: Brazil
  5. IMO India
    Contact: mallika@imocontrol.in
    Countries: India
  6. Indocert
    Contact: mathew.sebastian@indocert.org
    Countries: India, Sri Lanka
  7. Instituto de Manejo e Certificação Florestal e Agrícola (IMAFLORA)
    Contact: luisfernando@imaflora.org
    Countries: Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay
  8. Natura-Cert
    Contact: srestrepo@naturacert.org
    Countries: Colombia
  9. Productos y Procesos Sustentables
    Contact: certificacion@sustentables.org
    Countries: Mexico
  10. RACert
    Countries: Australia, Belgium, Canada, China, Republic of (Taiwan), Costa Rica, El Salvador, Ethiopia, France, Germany, Guatemala, Honduras, India, Indonesia, Italy, Ivory Coast, Japan, Kenya, Madagascar, Malawi, Malaysia, Netherlands, Nicaragua, Peru, Philippines, Singapore, South Africa, Spain, Sri Lanka, Sweden, Switzerland, Tanzania, Turkey, Uganda, United Kingdom, United States, Vietnam

File a Complaint

We appreciate your decision to give us feedback on any concern, complaint or issue you see related to Rainforest Alliance. This includes suspected misuse of the Rainforest Alliance Certified™ seal or other trademarks, violations of Rainforest Alliance requirements, or any other concern you wish to bring to our attention.

The information you provide will be kept strictly confidential and we ask that you give us as much detail as you can, including places, dates, products or companies you’re concerned about, as well as your name and email address so that we can follow up with any questions we may have. However, anonymous complaints are also welcome.

After completing this form, please e-mail the corresponding evidence to rac@ra.org.

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