Interested in purchasing products from Rainforest Alliance Certified farms? The first step is to become part of our 2020 certification program and receive certification.
What is supply chain certification?
Supply chain certification tracks a product from a Rainforest Alliance certified farm through every step of the production process. It provides assurance on the integrity of your supply chain and therefore allow you to confidently claim the certified origin of your product.
Supply chain certification allows your company to source and sell certified products with the Rainforest Alliance Certified seal. It helps you meet the rising demand for more sustainable products, being able to access new markets while reducing potential reputational risks. Our teams are available to support you throughout the entire process of your supply chain certification.
How do I get supply chain certification?
- Register in our new platform, MultiTrace. You will receive an invitation to do so by us.
- Once your account registration has been confirmed, you will be able to build your company profile.
- The profile completion process includes a series of questions about your operations which is known as the Supply Chain Risk Assessment (SCRA). Read more in the FAQ below.
- Once you have completed building your profile in MultiTrace, you will be able to view the set of requirements specific to your context and our Supply Chain team will review your SCRA to inform you about your verification level and next steps. Please note: We expect an influx of profiles to review at the beginning of this process which may lead to longer review times However, we expect to increasingly automate the process as we move forward.
- You will be able to see your results and next steps in your MultiTrace profile.
- The certification body that you select for the audit process will provide a schedule and budget for your audit. The frequency of audits will depend on your risk category, please see the schedule below.
- After your first audit against the new program, the certification body shares the audit results with you. If the results are positive, your company is approved for a Supply Chain certificate and will be issued a license to access our traceability platform. The license allows a company to trade certified product in our online traceability platform.
- Supply Chain certified companies are required to maintain compliance with our 2020 Sustainable Agriculture Standard throughout the duration of their certification.
Rainforest Alliance and UTZ mutual recognition
While you are still certified against one of the legacy programs (UTZ or Rainforest Alliance Chain of Custody 2018, 2017, respectively), you may want to make use of the mutual recognition for the Rainforest Alliance and UTZ Chain of Custody certifications. This means that you can source both Rainforest Alliance and UTZ certified products with only one annual audit. Companies can request mutual recognition to the legacy program through December 31st, 2022. To learn more, visit our mutual recognition guidelines.
Rainforest Alliance 2015 program and UTZ Choc program
The CRA/audit application process is now closed in order to allow time to transition to our new program. However, we will consider cases in which companies are needing to get certified to the current programs and plan to receive an audit to the legacy RA/UTZ Chain of Custody.
Note for the 2015 Rainforest Alliance program: You can proceed with other activities in Marketplace, such as requesting a License Agreement and submitting a trademark request as soon as you have registered in Marketplace. To register, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the Supply Chain Risk Assessment (SCRA)?
As a part of the registration process for the Rainforest Alliance Certification Program, organizations will be asked to submit information that feeds into the Supply Chain Risk Assessment (SCRA). The SCRA considers the organization’s activities, its location and the location of sites, information on the certified product or products, compliance, and social risks, among others. Based on this information, an organization is assigned a verification level which determines whether an audit is needed, and if this is the case, the type of audit and the frequency.
Who has to go through the SCRA?
The SCRA is only applicable to those organizations going through the supply chain certification process. Organizations that go through the farm audit process do not have to complete the SCRA. In practice, this means that organizations that include farming in their activities are considered a prospective farm certificate holder and the SCRA does not apply to them. When an organization registers for the Program, it is asked to indicate its activities. If a prospective Certificate Holder is recognized as a supply chain organization, the system will indicate that the SCRA process applies.
How do I complete the SCRA?
After the system has established that an SCRA is needed and the organization has filled out the questionnaire recording each site that they wish included in the certificate, they can confirm their profile and scope.
The complete profile is then reviewed by the Supply Chain team. Once the team confirms the risk for each site within the organization’s profile, the verification levels will be displayed in the organization’s account. Once the verification levels have been calculated, the organization receives an email that includes next steps for supply chain certification. Please note that an organization can update the scope of their profile any time prior to selecting the ‘calculate my verification levels’ button. Once this process is set in motion, the organization needs to reach out to the Rainforest Alliance to make any changes while under review.
How long does the SCRA review take?
Currently, the review time is estimated at 3 weeks, based on the projected number of requests. It is expected that the review time becomes shorter as requests are processed and fewer requests enter the system.
What is the verification level?
The verification level refers to how often and what review processes are needed to assess the risk at a specific site. This verification can range from an internal Rainforest Alliance review of the certification profile of an organization, to a site audit carried out by a Certification Body.
The Rainforest Alliance review
The review is a remote method of verification through which the Rainforest Alliance evaluates compliance with the 2020 Sustainable Agriculture Standard by evaluating evidence submitted by the Certificate Holder. This can include looking at the Certificate Holder’s self-assessment, non-conformance history if applicable. The Rainforest Alliance may contact the company to ask for additional information.
The Rainforest Alliance automated check
This method of verification evaluates basic compliance with the program through data collected in the Rainforest Alliance Certification Platform, including up-to-date traceability, submitted seal approvals and valid license agreements.
The CB on-site audit
In this type of audit, representatives of a Certification Body travel to a site to obtain audit evidence and evaluate compliance with the relevant Standard requirements.
The CB desk audit
On this type of audit, the Certification Body works remotely and obtains documentation to evaluate compliance with the relevant Standard requirements.
In the 2015 Rainforest Alliance program and the 2015 UTZ program, supply chain actors could fall under one of four risk scores: very low risk, low, medium, and high risk. The current program, based on the 2020 Sustainable Agriculture Standard, recognizes five levels: A, B, C, D, and E, where A is the lowest risk and E the highest, as can be seen on the table below.
What do levels A-E mean?
Levels A through E indicate how often an organization needs to present data related to compliance to the Rainforest Alliance, and in what way.
A site that falls under verification level A is considered low risk. Therefore, the Rainforest Alliance considers it sufficient to review information itself, rather than ask the company to undergo an audit from a CB. The Rainforest Alliance conducts a review of an organization’s level of compliance with their applicable requirements and any non-conformance history. A site under verification level A will receive an endorsement, which has the same weight as a CB-issued certificate and allows for the organization to carry out transactions in the Rainforest Alliance platforms.
For all other levels (B-E), third-party (CB) verification is required at least in year one of the three-year certification cycle. The verification becomes more in-depth as the risk increases, from a desk audit to an on-site audit through a Certification Body. If the Certification Body that carries out the audit makes a positive decision, it can issue a Rainforest Alliance certificate. The organization is then allowed to carry out transactions in the Rainforest Alliance platforms.
How is the verification level calculated?
The following data is collected from organizations when creating their profile in MultiTrace. This data forms part of the SCRA and allows to assess the risk and determine the verification level:
- Site location, specifically country
- Site activity (i.e. trading, processing, warehousing, packing, retailer/brand owner)
- Crops handled or purchased at a site
- Whether the physical handling of product occurs at a site
- Whether only Rainforest Alliance products are handled at a site
- Site volumes per crop
- Site role (i.e. administrator)
- Whether a site is a first buyer
- The type of claim a site is making
- Whether a site has a specific combination of valid certificates to other Chain of Custody/Supply Chain schemes (i.e. organic, fair trade, GFS, ISO, Etc.)
In general, organizations handling volumes below the small volume thresholds (2020 Certification and Auditing Rules, p. 25) and/or not physically handling product and/or only handling Rainforest Alliance products are placed at the lowest risk level. Organizations on the highest risk level are those processing unfinished certified and non-certified products and those that present a potential risk in social topics.
While this is a general rule, the only way to know the verification level an organization will receive is to complete the registration and certification profile process.
What are the SCRA fees?
To ensure a smooth transition to the new Rainforest Alliance program, the SCRA will not be subjected to processing fees during the transition year. The Rainforest Alliance will communicate the SCRA fees applicable on the first full certification cycle after transitioning into the new program in 2022.
What is the difference between the SCRA and the Chain of Custody Risk Assessment (CRA)?
Organizations familiar with the current 2017 Rainforest Alliance Certification Program know the SCRA process outlined above as the Chain of Custody Risk Assessment (CRA). The CRA process was housed in Marketplace, and it was used to evaluate the frequency and type of verification required for supply chain actors to achieve certification. The Supply Chain Risk Assessment, or SCRA, serves the same purpose in the new program although it looks a bit different. The SCRA is housed in MultiTrace and is embedded in the profile completion process for supply chain organizations. Also, the name changed from CRA to SCRA as the Rainforest Alliance no longer refers to organizations that are seeking certification after the farm as ‘Chain of Custody’ organizations, but rather ‘Supply Chain organizations’.
Can the risk and verification level be lowered?
If a company has other certifications recognized by the Rainforest Alliance or show continuous compliance with the Rainforest Alliance Standard requirements, they can potentially lower their risk and therefore their verification level. The verification of both processes will be conducted within the Rainforest Alliance Platform.