We understand that cost is an important factor when considering Rainforest Alliance certification. While costs vary depending on your work and your needs, this page gives you an overview of certification costs for farmers and companies.
Cost of Rainforest Alliance certification for farmers
Farmers pay for audit services from the certification body of their choice. The Rainforest Alliance does not regulate these costs. The fees vary significantly depending on the size of the farm and location. Smallholders may want to organize and seek certification as a group to reduce expenses.
Farmers are also responsible for covering all costs associated with meeting the Sustainable Agriculture Standard. These costs may include: removing parts of their farm from production to comply with buffer-zone widths, implementing new management practices, or building new infrastructure. The Rainforest Alliance offers technical support to help farmers on the path towards certification. Contact a local Rainforest Alliance representative or trainer.
Costs for companies
Rainforest Alliance certification comes with many benefits for companies. We provide systems to trace and verify certified products throughout the supply chain. We develop certification policies and standards, manage a certification database and a quality control system for certification bodies, and manage complaints and appeals. We offer field training and technical support to farmers, and we engage in advocacy activities to encourage sustainable government policies and programs. We also promote the Rainforest Alliance certification seal in the marketplace, measure its impact, and create communications tools to raise public awareness and support companies in their marketing efforts.
There are four costs for companies, when applicable:
- Companies whose Supply Chain Risk Assessment (SCRA) results indicate that they require an audit must pay for supply chain audit fees from the Rainforest Alliance authorized certification body of their choice. The Rainforest Alliance does not regulate these costs. The fees vary significantly depending on the locations, size and complexity of the company’s operations Companies whose SCRA indicates “very low risk” will receive an Endorsement and are not required to have an audit, in that case audit fees do not apply.
- The Sustainability Differential (SD), which is the cash premium price paid to farmers by their buyers to reward them for implementing more sustainable farming practices and achieving certification. This amount is negotiable (except in cocoa, where a minimum of 70 US$ per MT of cocoa bean is applicable), paid on top of the market price of the commodity in question and irrespective of any other (quality) premiums and differentials.
- The Sustainability Investment (SI), which is an investment that buyers of Rainforest Alliance certified agricultural products make to help farmers meet and maintain the Rainforest Alliance certification requirements. This amount is negotiable (except in fresh fruits, where a fixed value of 5.50 US$ per MT is applicable).
- A volume-based royalty to the Rainforest Alliance, once in each supply chain, based on the volume of certified goods purchased. The Rainforest Alliance License Agreement General Terms & Conditions outline the total amount of the royalty per certified product, how it is collected, and at which point in the supply chain it is invoiced. Royalties are applicable whenever companies claim that a crop is purchased from a Rainforest Alliance Certified farm or sell it “as certified”. This happens whether the claim is on a product, on packaging, in a contract or invoice, or on promotional materials on or off line, regardless of whether our seal or other marks are used.
Royalty by crop
$0.015 per pound of green coffee 1
$0.0129 per kilogram of cocoa beans
$0.0125 per kilogram of blended tea
Until 31st September 2022 EUR 22.50 per metric tonne of herbal infusion ingredients including rooibos 2
€42 per metric ton of hazelnuts 3
$0.02 per box of bananas (18.14 kilogram) 4
$0.015 per pound of soluble orange juice solids and soluble solids of all other juices and purees
$0.005 per pound of soluble banana puree solids 5
$1.00 per metric ton of drained weight of canned fresh fruit 5
$3.00 per metric ton of fresh pineapple 6
$4.00 per metric ton of other fresh fruits 6
$25.00 per metric ton of crude coconut oil 7
$3.00 per metric ton of vegetables
1 Coffee purchases confirmed by the importer in MultiTrace through December 31, 2020, will continue to be billed to the supply chain actor(s) when the coffee is redeemed (traced) in the system.
2 From 1 October 2022, USD 1,250/MT cured vanilla and dried saffron, USD 75/MT for dried key herbs and spices, and USD 25/MT for dried rooibos, sage, cassia and all other herbs and spices. Key herbs and spices are Pepper, Cinnamon, Chili Pepper, Oregano, Coriander, Paprika, Cardamom, Dill, Clove, Parsley, Nutmeg, Thyme, Laurel / Bay Leaf, Rosemary, Tarragon.
3 Note that the previous hazelnuts program fee of EUR 30/MT hazelnut kernels and the membership fee was replaced by a royalty of EUR 42/MT hazelnut kernels from January 1, 2022.
4 Also applicable to fresh plantain.
5 This applies to certified volumes traded after October 1, 2022.
6 This applies to certified volumes traded after January 1, 2023.
7 The royalty was reduced from $32.00 to $25.00 from July 1, 2021 onwards, to respond to changes in the commodity price.
For more information about our royalty, please refer to the Rainforest Alliance License Agreement General Terms and Conditions.
FAQs about royalty fees
What are the new royalty fees for fresh and processed fruits, and coconut oil?
For fresh fruit, importers (the organization outside country of origin that first buys fresh or processed fruit in the traceability system, including retailers, brand owners or any organization importing fresh fruits directly from origin), are subject to the payment of the royalty. The participation royalty is paid once in the supply chain and amounts to USD 3 for every metric ton of Rainforest Alliance certified pineapple sold and USD 4 for every metric ton of other Rainforest Alliance certified fruits. This amount is fixed and does not vary depending on the volume of fruits. The royalty for bananas remains the same.
For processed fruit, the royalty will be calculated on the volume of soluble solids of Rainforest Alliance certified fruit products recorded on the Transaction Certificate (TC) from the First Processor to the First Buyer and charged to the importer. The royalty for processed fruits is USD 0.015 per lb of soluble solids and for banana puree USD 0.005 per lb of soluble solids.
For the coconut oil program we are reducing the royalty from USD 32/MT of crude coconut oil to USD 25/MT of crude coconut oil to respond to changes in the commodity price since the introduction of the royalty in 2018. The point of charge of the royalty remains unchanged and the reduced royalty will be charged on incoming transactions of the first buyer of crude coconut oil from 1st of July 2021 onwards.
The royalty for fresh & processed fruit as well as coconut oil is payable quarterly in USD.
Why has the hazelnut program gone from a program and membership fee to a royalty system?
In the hazelnut program the program fee of EUR 30/MT hazelnut kernels and the membership fee will be replaced by a royalty of EUR 42/MT hazelnut kernels. The royalty is charged once along the supply chain to the importer. The royalty will replace the membership and program fee from 1 January 2022 and will be invoiced monthly in EUR.
This change brings the hazelnut program in line with all our other programs, which do not have a membership fee. Further, because the membership fee system was calculated based on total hazelnut volumes, it led to high costs for members with low certified volumes. The royalty system has eliminated this barrier to joining the program.
What does royalty revenue finance?
The Rainforest Alliance is a non-profit organization with a mission to transform agricultural practices, supporting biodiversity conservation and promoting sustainable livelihoods. We use standards and certification as a key mechanism to achieve this. As such, we incur costs that arise from developing standards and policies, managing the certification scheme, maintaining databases, validating certification claims, measuring the impact of certification, raising public awareness and promoting the Rainforest Alliance Certified seal in the marketplace.
Why not charge the brands or retailers?
We believe that all parties buying and selling certified products are beneficiaries of the very comprehensive Rainforest Alliance certification system and want to continue promoting sustainable farming and sustainable value chains. The royalty charge has been placed in the middle of supply chains to support market pull and enable the scale up of sustainable production of certified products at source. It is generally set at the point where the original certified farm product is blended or transformed into processed products, hence breaking up the original traceability reference – a critical control point in the Rainforest Alliance Certified supply chain.
The Rainforest Alliance mission is best served with increased demand for sustainably grown agricultural products. Placing the royalty charge at the end of the supply chain would have meant significantly higher charges, a barrier to entry and would have kept the system niche. This format has allowed for the Rainforest Alliance to go mainstream, enabling truly transformational large-scale commitments to sustainable sourcing.
How do you ensure that each party takes responsibility to pay their share of the royalty?
We believe that sustainability is the responsibility of the entire supply chain and each party needs to honor their responsibilities. By having a transparent and simple volume-based fee, the participation royalty is a cost that can be shared and discussed openly as part of trade negotiations.
What happens if I do not pay the royalty charge?
Non-payment will disrupt future ability to buy, sell or label any products Rainforest Alliance Certified. If your supplier continues to fail to pay invoices the company will lose the right to sell Rainforest Alliance Certified products and you will no longer be able to use the seal on your packaging or accompanying materials. If you intend to use the Rainforest Alliance Certified seal on your packaging, or make claims on products coming from Rainforest Alliance certified farms, you and your suppliers must have up-to-date declarations of volumes of products sold and purchased from Rainforest Alliance Certified farms.
What happens if my supplier does not pay the royalty charge?
Non-payment will disrupt future ability to buy, sell or label any products Rainforest Alliance Certified. If your supplier continues to fail to pay invoices the company will lose the right sell Rainforest Alliance Certified products and you will no longer be able to use the seal on your packaging or accompanying materials. If you intend to use the Rainforest Alliance Certified seal on your packaging, you and your suppliers must have up-to-date declarations of volumes of products sold and purchased from Rainforest Alliance Certified farms.
Why is there a difference in the royalty level between banana and other fresh fruit?
Royalty levels are usually set at around 1% of the FOB price for the commodity traded. But at Rainforest Alliance we are aware that fresh fruit carries different margins than other added value products. That is why the royalty levels for fruit are set at a lower percentage than other Rainforest Alliance Certified traded commodities.
How do I pay royalties for rooibos and herbal tea until Q4 when MTT comes into effect?
The royalty procedure until Q4 is described here.