An important element at the heart of the Rainforest Alliance’s 2020 Certification Program is sharing responsibility throughout the supply chain. As part of this, certain retailers are now also in the scope of certification as important supply chain stakeholders.
This means that some retailers will be required to register and receive a license to our platform for either traceability purposes, or to submit trademark approvals but will not be required to go through certification. Select retailers, depending on their activities, will also need to obtain a Rainforest Alliance certificate, for which a desk audit may be required.
All retailers that are driving the request for purchasing Rainforest Alliance certified consumer products and/or fresh products (fruits, vegetables, flowers) that are sold under their own brand name or as non-branded products will be required to undergo certification. Retailers who make off-pack specific volume claims will also need to be certified, for example a retailer claiming that 100% of the coffee they purchase is Rainforest Alliance certified.
What is a non-branded product? A non-branded product is a product sold to consumers via retail outlets without a brand logo or brand name. Non-branded products are mostly fresh products such as fruit or vegetables.
Retailers will be supported in determining whether they/their subsidiaries are in scope of certification using this decision tree.
Retailers will be able to register in the new platform during Q2, 2021. Please find more specific guidance in our Frequently Asked Questions:
Frequently Asked Questions
For which activities are retailers required to register with Rainforest Alliance for the new program?
Registration with the Rainforest Alliance program is required to gain access to the systems listed below. Please note that the systems retailers or their subsidiaries require access to depends on their specific activities:
- The approval system for labeling and claims (Marketplace): All those that make on-pack or off-pack Rainforest Alliance claims.
- The traceability system per crop: Certain retailers may be required to confirm transactions in our traceability system.
- The certification platform through which companies receive a Rainforest Alliance certificate: all retailers that are driving the request for purchasing Rainforest Alliance certified finished consumer products and/or fresh products (fruits, vegetables, flowers) that are sold under their own brand name or as non-branded products.
Which retailers need to register and get certified?
All retailers that are driving the request for purchasing Rainforest Alliance certified finished consumer products and/or fresh products (fruits, vegetables, flowers) that are sold under their own brand name or as non-branded products will be required to undergo certification in the 2020 program.
The locations which must be certified (through an audit or endorsement process – see below) are those where purchasing and sourcing decisions related to Rainforest Alliance certified products are made. These are identified based on the questions in this decision tree.
Our certification program allows for certificates to cover multiple sites within a pre-determined geographical scope. Below are the regions available for multi-site certificates:
- Asia and Pacific
- Europe and Middle East and Turkey
- Latin America
- US and Canada
Which retailers have to register but do not have to get certified?
A retailer location that is not in scope of certification per the decision tree but are responsible for:
- Submitting approval requests for claims or trademarks in Marketplace, and/or
- Confirming transactions in the system for traceability purposes
When do eligible retailers have to be registered in the new certification platform?
Retailers are recommended to register starting from Q2 of 2021.
What level of verification will eligible retailers need to comply with?
Retailers will fall in one of two categories:
- Level A which is the lowest level of risk and does not require an audit. All supply chain actors that fall in level A will receive an endorsement certificate issued by Rainforest Alliance.
- Level B which is the second lowest level of risk and requires a desk audit in the first year of certification conducted by a third-party auditor. All supply chain actors that fall in level B will receive a Certification Body (CB) issued certificate.
YEAR 1 YEAR 2 YEAR 3
|A Very Low||RA review||RA automated check||RA automated check|
|B Low||CB Desk Audit||RA review||RA automated check|
How does Rainforest Alliance determine which level of verification will be required?
The questions asked during registration also determine the verification level that will apply to the retailer. This is based on the risk profile of a retailer’s activities. In general, retailers that are making basic Rainforest Alliance claims that do not include specific targets will require the lowest level of verification (level A). Retailers that are making specified claims (such as global sourcing or a percentage claim), or those responsible for SD/SI requirements in a given sector will need third party verification from a CB (level B).
Which requirements will retailers have to comply with in the new certification program?
There are 15 total possible requirements, including 6 mandatory requirements for every retailer.These are the requirements that will always apply to a retailer regardless of activity or crop:
- Due diligence, 1.1.4
- List of subcontractors and suppliers, 1.2.3
- Internal inspection, 1.4.1 (only if part of a multi-site certificate)
- Self-assessment, 1.4.2
- Grievance mechanism, 1.5.1
- Traceability, 2.2.2
There are 9 requirements that may apply depending on the activity/crop/claiming including:
- Seven requirements related to Shared Responsibility. These are the requirements that will be dependent on activity according to the Annex 6 tables, i.e. if the retailer (brand owner) is indeed indicated as the Supply Chain Actor responsible for a certain activity. There is a consensus that this piece of the proposal needs to be more detailed and piloted.
- Sustainability Differential and Sustainability Investments (SD/SI), 3.2.3-3.2.7, 3.3.4-3.3.5
We are currently working on crop specific guidance for SD/SI which will be published at the end of Q1, 2021. In instances where the Brand Owner is responsible for paying and recording the SD/SI, retailers will bear this responsibility for their own brands and non-branded products. In banana, retailers may be responsible, but this is not yet determined.
There are also 2 requirements related to claims and seal use. These are the requirements that will be dependent on claim level use:
- Rainforest Alliance claims are valid and comply with program requirements, 2.1.13
- Approval for seal use for on- and off product communication is available, 2.2.4
How does the Rainforest Alliance determine which requirements retailers have to comply with?
The registration process includes a series of questions for retailers in scope to answer which will then determine their applicable requirements. Retailers will have the opportunity to review these requirements in the system and confirm or dispute whether or not they make sense based on their activities prior to moving to the next step in certification.