In January 2018, the Rainforest Alliance merged with UTZ, a leading certification program for coffee, cocoa, tea, and hazelnuts. We are joining forces because together we can have a greater impact and be a better partner to the many stakeholders we work with. Work is now underway to build our new sustainable agriculture certification program.
Q&A on the Rainforest Alliance-UTZ Merger
Our detailed Q&A has in-depth information for companies, producers, and certification bodies.
Building a New Certification Program
Our organization is called the Rainforest Alliance, and we will continue to use and invest in the Rainforest Alliance Certified™ “green frog” seal, which brings strong consumer recognition and brand value. It is not permitted to use the Rainforest Alliance seal and UTZ label interchangeably. Rainforest Alliance Certified ingredients can only be sold or labeled as Rainforest Alliance, and UTZ certified ingredients can only be sold or labeled as UTZ.
The Rainforest Alliance and UTZ programs will continue to run in parallel until the publication of a single new agriculture standard at the end of 2019. Our goal is to develop a standard that has a greater social, environmental, and economic impact, giving farmers and producers an enhanced framework to improve their livelihoods while protecting the landscapes where they live and work.
It will integrate new technologies with proven, effective systems. It will also emphasize outcomes and adaptability to local contexts. In addition to a new standard, it will include a new chain of custody, a new fee structure, and a new labeling policy for companies sourcing certified products.
What Does It Mean for Companies?
This merger will reduce the complexity of the certification process for companies that are now working with both programs, and at the same time, it will increase efficiency and flexibility so that we can continuously improve services to meet business needs.
We have completed a broad qualitative and quantitative consultation to develop our full value offering to companies, including the fee structure, labeling policy, and marketing approaches. We have also consulted customers on how to manage the transition to the new certification program. The input received is very valuable and is now helping us further shape our business strategy, which we will share in due course.
What Does It Mean for Farmers?
Farmers should continue following the Rainforest Alliance standard as usual. Continue to arrange audits and register sales of certified ingredients following the same processes already in place.
We will publish a new certification program at the end of 2019, and we will guide farmers through a step by step transition. Creating one certification program will bring big benefits to the 182,000 farmers who are currently both Rainforest Alliance and UTZ certified – they will only need one audit instead of two, and will avoid the double administration of applying two standards.
What Does It Mean for Certification Bodies?
Approved Certification Bodies can continue carrying out audits against the Rainforest Alliance standard as usual. When we publish our new certification program in 2019 we will continue to work with independent certification bodies.
Leadership and Board
The Rainforest Alliance’s leadership team is in place, made up of leaders from the pre-merger Rainforest Alliance and UTZ, as well as newly appointed colleagues. All members of the pre-merger Rainforest Alliance and UTZ boards have joined the new Board of Directors.
A Reimagined Certification System Explained
The principle of reimagining certification, as well as three key intervention areas, are explained in a video from Britta Wyss Bisang,.
Merging Chain of Custody Certification Processes
The mutual recognition process for Rainforest Alliance and UTZ Chain of Custody certification is a significant first step in our merger.