With the new Rainforest Alliance Certification Program based on the 2020 Rainforest Alliance Sustainable Agriculture Standard, we are placing more emphasis on sharing responsibility throughout the entire supply chain. From farmer to brand owner, we encourage all actors to invest in sustainable agriculture and responsible purchasing practices.
Going forward, and starting in the third quarter of 2021, retail and foodservice companies that act as brand owners for Rainforest Alliance Certified products will be required to register for our program and will receive an invitation to do so.
With these actors coming on board, and with traceability being extended to all brand owners of certified products, we will be better able to share data on investments and impact on farm level, share better insights into sustainability risks for specific supply chains, and improve assurance around a broad range of responsible sourcing areas.
This data-based approach will contribute to strengthening the credibility of the Rainforest Alliance seal among consumers and other stakeholders.
Retail and foodservice companies that need to register
Only retail and foodservice companies that are considered as a ‘Brand Owner’ of Rainforest Alliance Certified products need to get registered for the new program. Retail and foodservice companies can be considered ‘Brand Owner’ for all their private label products, but also for non-branded products sold through the company’s sales channels. Non-branded products are mainly fresh produce that does not show a logo or brand name on the product itself.
If a company only sells Rainforest Alliance Certified products for which other companies are the brand owner (all A-brands for instance), there is no need to register.
Our decision tree can help you understand which companies need to get certified.
Entities that need to register and registration possibilities
We are aware that retail and foodservice companies often consist of different entities such as national subsidiaries. Some of these entities will actively manage the purchasing of Rainforest Alliance Certified crops or products, while other entities will only sell finished consumer products and use the Rainforest Alliance seal or claims in their off-pack communication.
To limit administrative burden, we only require those entities that are directly responsible for purchasing certified volumes, those that manage supplier contracts and relations directly, to register so they can obtain a supply chain certificate and a traceability account.
These companies will be invited to register in MultiTrace via email, in the third quarter of 2021.
Entities that do not manage the purchasing of certified products but wish to use the Rainforest Alliance seal or claims in off-pack communication or that are responsible for submitting labeling approval requests for on-pack claims are also required to register to obtain a trademark approval account (in Marketplace 2.0). These may include stores, subsidiaries, franchisees, online channels or cafes selling the products to consumers.
These entities do not need to obtain a certificate or a traceability account, but they will be required to either sign the Rainforest Alliance Legal Agreement or to link to the Legal Agreement signed by their headquarters, if they are listed as a subsidiary. The entity will then receive an account in the trademark approval system, through which is can upload all communication material using the Rainforest Alliance trademarks or claims. This system is Marketplace 2.0 for all crops.
Any other entities that are selling Rainforest Alliance Certified products (even with on-pack Rainforest Alliance trademarks), but do not manage purchasing activities for these and do not use the Rainforest Alliance seal or claims in off-pack communication, do not need to register at all.
During the registration process the company will provide information on its business, the Rainforest Alliance Certified crops they purchase and their activities. Based on this information, the company will need to comply with a specific set of requirements from the Rainforest Alliance Sustainable Agriculture Standard.
The verification level refers to how often and what review processes are needed to assess the risk of a specific entity (referred to as location or 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 verification process allows for companies to obtain a supply chain certificate, which will be issued through the Rainforest Alliance system. For more information on the verification process, please read our page on Supply Chain Risk Assessment.
Generally, retail and foodservice companies fall into Verification Level A. This means the certificate is issued by the Rainforest Alliance and no audit with an external certification body is required.
An entity or location of a retail or foodservice company will fall into Verification Level B if it is directly responsible for Sustainability Differential (SD) or Sustainability Investment (SI) requirements. In this case, the entity will work with a certification body and receive a remote audit through the system. Following the audit, the auditor will provide an audit report in the system and issue the certificate.
Please note that the Rainforest Alliance will introduce audits related to specific public Rainforest Alliance-related claims a retail or foodservice company may make with regard to the volumes or number of products they sell as certified. Further information will be provided in 2022.
Online traceability account
A valid supply chain certificate allows the holder to obtain an online traceability account. Once a company has obtained the supply chain certificate, it will automatically have access to an account in the online traceability system relevant for the crops it purchases. This is either MultiTrace for coffee, cocoa, tea, hazelnut, or herbs and spices, or Marketplace 2.0 for banana, flowers, fresh fruit, processed fruit (juices, canned fruit, coconut oil) and vegetables.
In the traceability systems, retail and foodservice companies will receive transactions from their suppliers for certified volumes purchase, though only for their private label products or non-branded products. The Rainforest Alliance will also share reports on investments and impact on farm-level, linked to the traceability data provided by each company.
In the case of banana and fresh fruit, retail and foodservice companies will receive transactions from their suppliers for all the products purchased as Rainforest Alliance Certified.
For any questions on traceability please contact your Rainforest Alliance account manager or the Customer Success Team.
Trademark approval account
Any entity that is using Rainforest Alliance trademarks or claims off-pack in their communication or that is responsible for submitting labeling approval for packaging also needs to register even if they are not required to get certified. After registration, it will receive an account in the trademark approval system. This system is Marketplace 2.0 for all crops.