Farmer poverty is an enduring issue in the cocoa sector. Our 2020 Sustainable Agriculture Standard addresses this critical issue from many angles, including the introduction of Origin Matching Mass Balance in cocoa. The aim of origin matching is to shift the investment in certification to better reflect the industry’s physical demand for cocoa. This shift will support farmers in the countries from which cocoa is purchased to ultimately create consumer products bearing the Rainforest Alliance Certified seal.
Cocoa Specific Requirements
The concept of mass balance for cocoa was originally introduced years ago to enable companies with complicated supply chains and manufacturing processes to purchase certified cocoa without requiring segregation of certified cocoa. The flexibility of mass balance was intended to increase the demand for certified cocoa and to bring more farmers into the Rainforest Alliance certification program, in turn increasing the impact of certification. While this increase in the number of cocoa farmers participation in certification has been and continues to be realized, we have also seen unintended consequences arise. One consequence is producers in certain countries are unable to realize the social and financial benefits of certification or investment from buyers.
We are introducing origin matching to address this imbalance and require companies to purchase certified cocoa from the countries that match the origin of cocoa used in certified consumer products. This move will continue to allow flexibility in the cocoa supply chain, and will better support the development of certified farming practices in countries where farmers are producing cocoa that is eventually sold as certified.
Origin matching is currently only being introduced for cocoa, because of the scale and global reach of the program. We do not require origin matching for any other crops at this time.
The phased approach to rolling out origin matching mass balance for cocoa is as follows:
July – September, 2020:
- Extensive industry consultation on Origin Matching Mass Balance for cocoa
October 1, 2020:
- Origin matching mass balance rules will be published
- Any company expecting to face issues obtaining an adequate supply of certified cocoa from a particular origin must submit a Sourcing Plan. This is a formal request to the Rainforest Alliance for special consideration by October 1, 2020 (please contact the Rainforest Alliance if you have questions about this).
July 1, 2021:
- Origin matching mass balance rules will go into effect for all cocoa volumes traded as Rainforest Alliance or UTZ certified. This will also apply to any cocoa entering the supply chain under our new Certification Program.
- The Rainforest Alliance traceability platforms will also be adjusted to allow for origin matching. These changes will go live on October 1, 2020.
- The Good Inside Portal will be adjusted to show the country of origin for any UTZ cocoa that enters the supply chain after October 1, 2020 (any cocoa that was sold by producers to First Buyers after this date).
- Marketplace will be adjusted to ensure cocoa from different countries of origin can no longer be mixed, thereby preserving country-specific information.
- All cocoa will migrate to our new traceability platform in early 2021.
- All Mass Balance cocoa certified under our new Certification Program starting July 2021 will have an origin associated with volumes.
- This will enable the Supply Chain to identify the country of origin of the Mass Balance credits for a significant share of cocoa certified under the UTZ certification program as well as the 2017 Rainforest Alliance Sustainable Agriculture Standard, and all cocoa certified under the 2020 Rainforest Alliance Certification Program. All New Standard credits will have origins
Credit expiration 2017 Rainforest Alliance SAS and UTZ Certification program
- Cocoa products certified under the 2017 Standard and the UTZ Certification Program expire on October 1, 2023. This applies to all program levels (IP, Segregation, Mass Balance) and all cocoa products and derivatives (beans, liquor, butter, powder, non-pure products).
- UTZ and Rainforest Alliance certified cocoa can continue to be traded until September 30, 2023.
- Credits that have not been attributed to a final product on the expiration date can no longer be traded or used towards a sustainability claim.
Credit expiration for New Standard cocoa (2020 Rainforest Alliance SAS)
- The credit validity for New Standard Mass Balance cocoa has not been determined yet.
Questions and Answers
What will the requirements be for July 2021?
We will publish the requirements on October 1, 2020.
As a final brand owner, will I be required to do origin matching as of July 2021?
We will publish the requirements on October 1, 2020.
How will the requirements protect intellectual property of recipes?
We are aware of the concerns around the sharing of intellectual property of recipes. We have held an extensive industry consultation to discuss the best way to address these concerns, and this feedback will be taken into consideration when writing the final requirements. We will publish the requirements on October 1, 2020.
How will the requirements address concerns around complexity and administrative burden?
Origin matching for products (not beans) will be required at the level of the Chain of Custody certificate, lessening the complexity and administrative burden per transaction in the Rainforest Alliance Traceability Systems.
What is the Sourcing Plan?
Origin Matching will be required as of July 1,2021. For some this will require a shift in certified sourcing. The Rainforest Alliance wants this shift to take place, but we also want this to happen in a credible way, within a realistic but ambitious timeframe. That is why we are giving companies the possibility to implement certification in these origins over a longer period with a maximum of 3 years (beyond July 1, 2021 and until December 31, 2023). Companies can request this longer period by submitting a Sourcing Plan.
If you wish to apply for a Sourcing Plan exception, please contact your relationship manager at the Rainforest Alliance or e-mail CustomerSuccess@ra.org. The deadline for submitting a Sourcing Plan is October 1, 2020.
Please note that a Sourcing Exception does not give you an exception from origin matching. A Sourcing Exception only gives the company the possibility to use the approved origin to cover volumes from another origin, for specific volumes and for a specific time period.
What is the deadline for submitting a Sourcing Plan?
The deadline for submitting a Sourcing Plan is October 1, 2020.
We cannot estimate the impact on our sourcing without the requirements. How can we provide the origins where we expect shortages?
We recommend that you submit those origins where you are currently buying conventional but selling onwards as certified using credits from another origin. These are the origins where a shift will need to take place as part of our vision of origin matching mass balance.
Won’t these new rules negatively affect some origins?
These rules will shift certified sourcing to more closely reflect the actual physical demand for inputs used in certified products. This means that some origins that are over-represented in the current Rainforest Alliance certified system may see a decrease in demand, while other origins that are under-represented or not present at all may see an increase in demand.
Can we use the mass balance credits created under the UTZ or 2017 Rainforest Alliance programs under the new Rainforest Alliance program?
Yes. All UTZ and 2017 Standard Rainforest Alliance stock will remain valid until October 1, 2023. You can continue buying and selling these cocoa products until that day. UTZ and 2017 Standard Rainforest Alliance cocoa can continue to be used for claims with the New Seal as well. For more information on seal use please see our page on the New Rainforest Alliance Certification Seal.
Does origin matching mass balance enable me to make an origin claim on my labeled product?
No. Origin matching mass balance is still mass balance which does not allow for content claims. If you would like to make an origin claim on your product, it is your responsibility to ensure that claim and you should not use certification credits as the proof of origin.