Eleven years ago, the Rainforest Alliance launched a certification program in palm oil. Since then, the uptake has remained limited to a handful of certified operations, which often also hold other voluntary certifications. With the coming into force of the 2020 Rainforest Alliance Sustainable Agriculture Standard, and after consultation with farm certificate holders and major market partners, we realized that transitioning palm certification would require significant investment for both farm and supply chain actors, and that the return would be limited for them in terms of impact and market reach.
Our new approach
Crucially, in this period we’ve also come to understand that sector transformation in the palm sector requires a broader and more innovative approach that leverages our strengths beyond certification. Going forward, we’ll be focusing our efforts on smallholders—inclusion, capacity building and broader improvements of practices and livelihoods—in key productive landscapes. We will also focus on increasing accountability and transparency in the sector through the Palm Industry Platform which builds on our extensive experience in traceability, supply chain assessments and corporate engagement. Rainforest Alliance will use this transparency to drive impact to improve smallholder livelihoods and reduce deforestation in the sector.
What does this mean for producers and supply chain actors?
Although the 2020 Rainforest Alliance Standard becomes mandatory on 1 July 2021, we recognize the commitment of our existing palm certificate holders and are offering the option for them to remain certified against the Rainforest Alliance 2017 Standard until 31st December 2022. However, no new farms can join the 2017 program as of 7 May 2021.
New supply chain actors may join the program until the end of 2021, provided they finalize their certification process by 31 December 2021. All certificates for supply chain actors will have a final expiry date of 30 June 2023 at the latest, to allow them to sell remaining Rainforest Alliance Certified products in accordance with our labelling and traceability requirements.