Last year, UTZ and the Rainforest Alliance merged to become one organization with the mission of achieving more together. Ever since, we’ve been working hard on building our new organization and much has been achieved. Below are five important updates for our partner companies. Watch this space for more over the coming months, and in the meantime, we are here to support you.
1. New organizational brand
As we merged our two organizations, we have also worked on an organizational brand that reflects the new Rainforest Alliance. We’re now proud to say that we have a fresh new organizational logo. Our new frog is sleeker and more dynamic, while still making the most of existing strong consumer recognition and brand value. We undertook extensive stakeholder engagement through the process of developing this new brand identity. Thank you to all who contributed ideas and inputs.
It’s important to note here that this new Rainforest Alliance organizational logo is not the same thing as our seal that is used on packaging. A refreshed and modernized Rainforest Alliance Certified seal is in development, including stakeholder consultation. We will share more information on when the new seal will be ready for use in the coming months.
The UTZ label will be gradually phased out over time. Meanwhile, companies can continue to submit UTZ labeling approval requests at least until the end of 2022. We will also continue to offer support for UTZ certified brands and products, from sourcing through marketing.
2. New strategy
With a new organization comes a new strategy. At the heart of this new strategy is reimagining certification, creating a new system that harnesses the power of the market to drive positive social, economic and environmental change across the entire supply chain. Reimagining certification is closely linked to three other areas of work: Landscapes & Livelihoods, Tailored Supply Chain Services and Advocacy. These are all tied together by the principle that sustainability is a journey of continuous, data-informed improvement rather than a binary pass/fail model. We want to focus on building local leadership capacity in producer countries, encouraging income diversification for farmers and on building market links between producers and companies. Watch this video for more details of our new strategy:
3. New certification program
By early 2020, we will publish a single, new agriculture certification program that builds on the best of both existing programs and strengths of both Rainforest Alliance and UTZ, including our deep commitment to innovation.
Our goal with this new program is to go beyond compliance alone. Rather, we aim at working to measure and incentivize continuous improvement and change across the supply chain. That includes improved data collection and analysis to assess the specific needs of farmers and adapt accordingly. This performance-driven approach will guide our own journey of constant improvement and make our interventions more effective over the long term.
At the beginning of 2019 we held an extensive public consultation on the first draft of the certification standard, including workshops in multiple countries and an online survey. We received a lot of positive and constructive feedback, which we are now processing and feeding back into the standard. A second round of consultation is currently taking place until the end of August.
We expect the roll-out of the new standard, including system preparations, training development and implementation, to take approximately a year after the publication. This means we expect farmers can begin to be audited against the new standard from the beginning of 2021.
Meanwhile, the current Rainforest Alliance and UTZ programs will continue to run in parallel as the transition across to our new standard takes place.
4. Mutual recognition of Chain of Custody and claims
The first concrete benefit for companies of our merger is the merging of our chain of custody certification processes. This step allows companies to purchase both UTZ certified and Rainforest Alliance certified ingredients while only having one Chain of Custody certificate in place for either one of the current programs. Although this means that companies still need to comply with the rules of both certifications, including seal use, they only have to be audited and licensed one time for both certifications, saving both time and money. This is a benefit for companies already working with both certifications, as well as for those currently working with one that wish to start working with the other too.
As a follow-up on this, mutual recognition on claim level is now available for our cocoa, tea and hazelnut programs. This means that companies at the end of the supply chain can source Rainforest Alliance Certified or UTZ certified ingredients – or a mixture of both – and then use either the Rainforest Alliance Certified seal or UTZ label on pack, in accordance with the labeling rules of the respective program. This allows our partner companies to make decisions on which seal creates the most value for their brand.
5. Marketing support: adding value to your business
Whether you currently source UTZ or Rainforest Alliance Certified ™ products or work with us in a different way, our newly merged marketing team is here to support you in communicating and leveraging your sustainability commitments.
We are currently developing our full and refreshed marketing toolkit with easy to use materials that will help you tell your brand story and highlight the benefits of the new Rainforest Alliance. In the meantime, we already have useful resources – our marketing support sheet and business one pager, as well as a selection of social media and other materials – to help you communicate what the new Rainforest Alliance stands for and how we can add value to your business.
All our marketing materials for the UTZ certification program can be found here.
We’re here to support you
We will keep sharing updates as the building of our new organization progresses over the coming months, but in the interim, we are here for whatever you may need. Check out our merger FAQ and reach out to us with questions through your regular contact person or at firstname.lastname@example.org.