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 Rainforest Alliance does not gain any revenue or fees associated with companies paying the Sustainability Differential (SD).
- 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 bananas and fresh fruits, where a minimum value of 5.50 US$ per MT is applicable). The Rainforest Alliance does not gain any revenue or fees associated with companies paying the Sustainability Investment (SI).
- 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 before July 1, 2024, $0.0175 per pound of green coffee as of July 1, 2024 1
$0.0129 per kilogram of cocoa beans before July 1, 2024, $0.0152 per kilogram of cocoa beans as of July 1, 2024
$0.0125 per kilogram of made tea before July 1, 2024, $0.0147 per kilogram of made tea as of July 1, 2024
$1,250 per MT of cured vanilla and dried saffron, $75 per MT for dried key herbs and spices, and $25 per MT for dried rooibos and all other herbs, spices and herbal tea ingredients, $15 per MT of fresh chili
€42 per metric ton of hazelnuts
$46 per MT of cashews and almonds as of October 1, 2024
$0.02 per box of fresh bananas (18.14 kilogram) before July 1, 2024, $0.0235 per box of bananas (18.14 kilogram) as of July 1, 2024 2
$0.015 per pound of soluble orange juice solids before July 1, 2024 $0.0177 per pound of soluble orange juice solids as of July 1, 2024
$0.015 per pound of soluble solids of all other juices and purees
$0.005 per pound of soluble banana puree solids
$1.00 per metric ton of drained weight of canned fresh fruit
$3.00 per metric ton of fresh pineapple
$4.00 per metric ton of other fresh fruits
$10.00 per metric ton of crude coconut oil
$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 Also applicable to fresh plantain.
For more information about our royalty, please refer to the Rainforest Alliance License Agreement General Terms and Conditions.
FAQs about royalty fees
Why are royalty rates increasing for some crops
The royalty rate for cocoa, coffee, tea, orange juice, and fresh bananas have increased due to inflationary pressures. The Rainforest Alliance has not raised our royalty rates since we first introduced them more than 13 years ago.
In that time, global inflation has risen 44%, and over 20% since 2020. The royalty rate increase taking effect on July 1, 2024 represents an approximately 17.5% price increase, less than half the amount global inflation has risen since we first introduced royalty fees. To maintain the quality and integrity of our certification program, we can no longer absorb the entirety of these costs.
When exactly will royalty rate increases take effect?
Royalty rate increases for cocoa, coffee, tea, orange juice, and fresh bananas will take effect on July 1, 2024. All transactions confirmed from July 1, 2024 in Multitrace, our traceability system, will be charged the increased royalty rate.
When will I be billed for the new royalty rate?
In August 2024, your company will begin to receive invoices which reflect our updated royalty rates for all transactions confirmed from July 1, 2024 in Multitrace, our traceability system.
Why have royalty rates remained the same for some crops?
The Rainforest Alliance introduced royalty rates for nuts, coconut oil, herbs and spices, vegetables, fresh (other than bananas) and processed fruits (other than orange juice) in recent years. Because these royalty rates were recently introduced, they do not require an inflation adjustment at this stage.
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.
Our volume based royalty rates are charged only once in the supply chain. The royalty charge has been placed in the middle of supply chain in most cases and is generally set at the point where the original certified farm product is blended or transformed into processed products.
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, and measuring the impact of certification.
At no additional cost to companies, we also provide marketing support to companies, validate certification claims, and raise public awareness of 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.
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.