The global coffee sector is currently facing a unique convergence of challenges including the ongoing effects of Covid-19 on supply chains, adverse weather events in major coffee producing countries, inflation, and increased transport costs.
For Rainforest Alliance Certified coffee buyers, there have been additional challenges due to the complexity involved in transitioning current Rainforest Alliance Certified coffee producers to our ambitious new certification standard. Though the Rainforest Alliance has offered continuous support to both producers and buyers, a shortage remains in the supply of Rainforest Alliance Certified coffee.
We acknowledge the concern this might raise for our coffee program partners and have endeavored to answer these concerns by introducing several measures to help them fulfil their sourcing objectives for certified coffee during this exceptional period.
General measures to address the challenges in the coffee supply
We have introduced more organizational support to facilitate the transition to the new standard for all stakeholders, especially increasing the capacity of regional teams for geolocation services, license processing, and customer support.
In March, we announced an extension of the transition timelines for farm certificate holders to implement the new standard. In line with our model for continuous improvement, we have also enabled farmers to complete the transition to the new standard while addressing non-critical non-conformities with a plan, instead of requiring full closure prior to certification.
For select countries including Brazil, Colombia, and Peru, we have also introduced a volume extension enabling pre-authorization of 50% of volumes for producers who will be certified, but whose final license has not yet been granted due to the administrative time-gap between audits and licensing. By utilizing this pre-authorization, producers are allowed continued access to the market for certified coffee which would otherwise be unavailable during the current coffee buying period.
Temporary Supply Shortage policy for the coffee sector
For our company partners who may be struggling to source enough Rainforest Alliance Certified coffee because of these disruptions in the coffee supply chain, we have introduced a Temporary Coffee Supply Shortage Policy (TCSSP) specifically tailored to the coffee sector. This policy builds upon the current Supply Shortage clause 10.3 in the Rainforest Alliance 2020 Labeling and Trademarks Policy and is intended to provide our partners with the flexibility needed to enable ongoing operations. It goes into effect as of July 1st, 2022 and applies until July 1st, 2023.
Broadly, the TCSSP for the coffee sector grants manufacturers, packers and roasters of consumer-facing products bearing the Rainforest Alliance seal the flexibility to sell products that contain a minimum 70% of Rainforest Alliance Certified ingredients. We recognize that the current market may make it difficult for this group to compensate for the volumes and will therefore we will not be requiring compensation of volumes packed before July 1, 2023.
These and other requirements are outlined in the full policy. To make use of the TCSSP, a stakeholder must first formally notify the Rainforest Alliance and provide all requested information. This can be done via the form below.
Transparency is maintained via a publicly available disclaimer that the organization marketing the product labeled with the seal agrees to display on its website. The disclaimer must outline which products have been affected and must remain visible for the entire period during which the affected products are supplied and shipped to consumers. The Rainforest Alliance has provided a disclosure text template for use by companies in the full policy.