Since the merger of the Rainforest Alliance and UTZ in 2018, we have been working to align our programs towards one single certification and traceability program, under the Rainforest Alliance. These efforts have led us to the Rainforest Alliance 2020 Sustainable Agriculture Standard, and to a consolidated way of ensuring traceability.
Full Mutual Recognition is another step towards this consolidation. The volumes, and the licenses and certificates of the legacy Rainforest Alliance and UTZ programs will be treated in the same way that we treat the new Rainforest Alliance program volumes. Specific information for your sector can be found in the FAQ below.
What is Full Mutual Recognition?
By Full Mutual Recognition, we mean that volumes from all three programs (legacy Rainforest Alliance, UTZ and the new Rainforest Alliance program) are considered “Rainforest Alliance” volumes. With Full Mutual Recognition, we will treat the volumes, and the licenses and certificates, of both legacy Rainforest Alliance and the UTZ programs in the same way that we treat our new standard volumes and licenses. For you, this means that new and legacy volumes do not need to be kept physically and administratively separated, neither in the Rainforest Alliance’s online traceability system nor in a company’s own administration.
This will apply to all traceability levels that we work with: Identity Preserved, Mixed Identity Preserved, Segregated, and Mass Balance. You can read more about these on Annex S6 of the Rainforest Alliance Sustainable Agriculture Standard.
What does this means for transitioning to the new standard?
The transition rules and timelines remain the same. You can find more information about the 2020 Sustainable Agriculture Standard and the transition rules here.
When will Full Mutual Recognition be applicable?
For cocoa, hazelnuts, and tea, Full Mutual Recognition will be available January 31, 2022. On this date, all volumes in your MultiTrace account will be changed to Rainforest Alliance volumes, regardless of the original program.
For herbs and spices (including rooibos), processed fruits (including coconut oil), and flowers, Full Mutual Recognition will be available January 1, 2022.
For coffee, Full Mutual Recognition will be rolled out in two phases:
- There will be Full Mutual Recognition in MultiTrace between 2020 SAS and UTZ volumes from January 31, 2022; during this period, traceability reporting for legacy RA 2017 volumes will remain in Marketplace.
- There will be Full Mutual Recognition in MultiTrace across all three standards (2020 SAS, UTZ, RA 2017) after legacy RA volumes are moved from Marketplace into MultiTrace (est. Q1 2022)
Will I still be able to see against which standard the volumes were originally certified?
No. All three programs will be merged into one “Rainforest Alliance” flow and will only be visible as such. When Full Mutual Recognition is applicable you will only be able to buy and sell “Rainforest Alliance” volumes.
Can I use a previous traceability account to receive new standard volumes before transitioning to the new standard?
If you have a pre-existing account with a valid license or certificate in the traceability system for new 2020 volumes, then you can use that account to receive new standard volumes even before you have transitioned.
For example, for processed fruits, after January 1, 2022, in Marketplace 2.0, you can use your pre-existing account to receive and trade new standard volumes prior to transitioning to the new standard.
For example, after January 31, 2022, in MultiTrace, if you have a valid UTZ license for cocoa or hazelnut in MultiTrace, you will be able to receive and trade volumes of new standard volumes in your UTZ account prior to transitioning to the new standard.
For coffee companies in Marketplace 2.0, these accounts cannot be used for transacting new standard volumes until they are moved to MultiTrace (est. Q1 2022). The current overview of traceability systems can be found here.
Will this change affect the royalty/program fee invoicing process?
Yes, it will affect the timing/process, but not the fee amounts. Our volume-based royalties for all crops have already been aligned. In order to implement Full Mutual Recognition, there are some important changes coming for our royalties program:
- All invoices for royalties will come from Rainforest Alliance Inc.
- All crops remaining in Marketplace 2.0 that are currently being invoiced will continue to be invoiced quarterly (no change). This includes coffee volumes that are transacted until a data migration out of Marketplace 2.0 occurs.
- Herbal tea ingredients and UTZ rooibos: will continue to be invoiced monthly (no change).
- Cocoa, coffee, tea, hazelnut*: For crops transacted in MultiTrace, we’ll be making some changes to accommodate system development:
- For the calendar year Q4 2021 invoicing cycle:
- All legacy volumes for all crops in MultiTrace will be invoiced per normal billing procedures.
- New standard Rainforest Alliance volumes will be invoiced in April 2022.
- For all calendar year Q1 2022 invoicing cycles, all volumes for all crops in MultiTrace will be invoiced in April 2022.
- For calendar year Q2 2022 going forward:
- Coffee, cocoa, and hazelnuts in MultiTrace will be invoiced monthly.
- Tea in MultiTrace will be invoiced quarterly.
- When introduced in MultiTrace, herbs and spices will be invoiced monthly.
- For the calendar year Q4 2021 invoicing cycle:
*Please note that for hazelnut we will charge a royalty of €42 per metric ton of hazelnut kernel equivalent from January 1, 2022. In Q1 2022 the royalty will be charged to the first buyer, but from Q2 2022 the royalty will be charged to the importer. We are also introducing new royalties for Herbs & Spices during 2022, for fresh and processed fruits from January 1, 2022, and for vegetables from July 1, 2022. Please use our explainer page How Much Does Rainforest Alliance Certification Cost? for more details on all royalty rates.
Does this mean that a Sustainability Differential (SD) and Sustainability Investments (SI) need to be paid for all volumes entered in the traceability systems?
No. You can find an overview on the timelines for payment of SD and SI here. In the traceability system, sales between producers and first buyers need to follow the rules from the standard they originated. Based on the standard users will enter the premium, Sustainability Differential (SD) & Sustainability Investment (SI), or “Not Required” with a reason in the traceability system.
- In MultiTrace, since a first buyer for new standard Rainforest Alliance cocoa or hazelnut is required to indicate an SD/SI, the user initiating this transaction would select SD/SI and fill in the proper information.
- In MultiTrace, since a first buyer for UTZ coffee is required to indicate a premium for coffee, the user initiating this transaction would select premium and fill in the proper information.
- In MultiTrace, since a first buyer for legacy Rainforest Alliance tea is not required to indicate a premium for tea, the user initiating this transaction would select “Not Required.”
Crops that are currently transacted in Marketplace do not have premium or Shared Responsibility requirements yet, so there will be no change for users. For fresh fruits and vegetables and processed fruits SD/SI requirements will be mandatory from January 1, 2023.
User guidance materials for MultiTrace will be updated accordingly and in system messages will help provide clarity on what options to select.
Can I physically mix different standard volumes?
Yes. This has already been part of our Transition Rules with regards to physical mixing. From a traceability system standpoint, once all volumes of a given crop are in one traceability system, you will be able to mix these volumes and administer traceability in one traceability system.
From a traceability system standpoint, coffee volumes can be mixed in MTT between UTZ and RA2020. For legacy Rainforest Alliance volumes, they may be physically mixed with UTZ and RA2020 volumes, but still need to be reported separately in Marketplace 2.0 until these volumes are moved to MTT (est. Q1 2022).
I have multiple traceability accounts in one platform, can I consolidate my different accounts for traceability?
The answer depends on the system. In Marketplace, accounts can be consolidated by requesting an account merge to our Customer Success team.
In MultiTrace, accounts cannot be consolidated, but volumes can be consolidated using the Sale function. This will not close out your original account, but you can contact our Customer Success team to help de-register your old account at firstname.lastname@example.org (Note: this will mean you cannot access your transaction history for this account anymore).
If I consolidate accounts, will I see my transaction history?
For MultiTrace, accounts cannot be consolidated. This means that transaction history will only be viewable by accessing the old account.
For Marketplace 2.0, merging of the accounts will bring all transaction history to one account.
What if there is no traceability system at the moment for a given crop?
When no online system is provided, a company should record the traceability information, as required by the standard, in their own systems and documentation. When the new traceability system comes online, we will provide guidance on how to backdate the information in the traceability system. For example, since there is no traceability system for peanuts at the moment, companies should maintain documentation of purchases and sales in their own systems.