From July 1st, 2019, we will offer further mutual recognition options for our cocoa, tea and hazelnut programs. This means that companies at the end of the supply chain will be able to source Rainforest Alliance Certified or UTZ certified ingredients (or a mixture of both), and then use either the Rainforest Alliance seal or UTZ label on pack (in accordance with the labeling rules).
This is in addition to the Chain of Custody Mutual Recognition that has been in place since December 2018, which allows companies to purchase both UTZ certified and Rainforest certified ingredients while only having to be Chain of Custody audited for one of the current programs.
Volume based fees for all cocoa and tea purchases will be aligned between the UTZ and Rainforest Alliance certification programs from July 1st, 2019. For cocoa we will align at a level between the two current programs, and for tea we will align to the lower fee level.
Together, these mutual recognition arrangements are an important step that will make things simpler for companies and allow an easier transition into our new certification program. In addition, we hope that producers in both systems will find new buyers and markets for their produce.
For more information read the Q&A below or check our guidelines document.
Questions & Answers
Scope & General
Which crops does this apply to?
Cocoa, tea, and hazelnuts.
Why is coffee not included?
We are not offering claim level mutual recognition for coffee now because we see a risk for producer prices if we were to take it forward at this time. We carried out detailed assessments of all the sectors we work in. Offering claim level mutual recognition for coffee could lead to significant changes in sectoral supply and demand, and potentially increase pressure on producer prices. The coffee sector is currently facing historically low prices, and unlike in other sectors the Rainforest Alliance and UTZ coffee programs are linked to quite different markets. These factors combined informed our decision not to offer claim level mutual recognition for coffee at this time.
Will there be mutual recognition for herbs and spices?
We are currently reviewing mutual recognition opportunities within relevant parts of our herbs and spices portfolio and will follow up with further information over the coming months.
The Rainforest Alliance and UTZ standards are different - is there a risk of confusing consumers?
Our two existing certification schemes are very similar in terms of objectives and impact, however, we will publish details on our website outlining what the two seals mean during this transition period. Companies are welcome to link to this page from their own communications to ensure full transparency and disclosure as we move towards our new standard.
What seal will be used for the new certification program?
We are working to refresh and modernize the Rainforest Alliance seal as part of the development of our new agricultural certification program, while making the most of existing strong consumer recognition and brand value. More information will be shared in the coming months.
The UTZ label will be gradually phased out. Meanwhile, companies can continue to submit UTZ labeling approval requests at least until the end of 2022. We will also continue to offer support for UTZ certified brands and products, from sourcing through marketing.
What can I do now to prepare for the July 1st launch?
If you haven’t already done so, we recommend ensuring that you have mutual recognition for Chain of Custody certification set up. As a part of this process, you will also register for an account in our Marketplace platform which will be required in order to make requests for mutual recognition claims from July 1st.
Can I use the Rainforest Alliance seal on hazelnuts?
Yes. We believe in helping brands link all of their claims together, simplify their message, and prevent a proliferation of messages that may confuse consumers. This also helps facilitate our move towards a single new seal in the future.
Can an end user use both seals in a single claim?
No, not through mutual recognition. Existing rules apply however, meaning that dual labeling can happen in certain instances. For example, if one ingredient is UTZ and another is Rainforest Alliance certified, they would continue to be able to claim the two independently so long as it is clear which relates to each ingredient.
Which labelling rules apply when using mutual recognition?
The labelling rules / policy that support the seal to be used will apply; i.e. if you wish to use the UTZ logo, the existing UTZ labelling rules apply. If you wish to use the Rainforest Alliance seal, the Rainforest Alliance labelling guidelines apply. These documents can be found for use of the Rainforest Alliance seal and the UTZ logo.
Can volumes switch between UTZ and Rainforest Alliance certification as they progress through the supply chain?
No. Once the volumes enter our systems as either UTZ or Rainforest Alliance Certified, it remains that way until the point of claiming. In this manner, we (and end users) retain traceability and visibility of which code or standard was deployed at origin. In addition, given that we have implemented mutual recognition at the Chain of Custody level already, this does not prevent supply chain actors from buying both so long as the correct administrative processes are followed.
If a mid-supply chain actor is buying from both programs, can they physically mix UTZ and Rainforest Alliance Certified volumes during processing?
No. The two schemes remain independent of each other from origin all the way through the supply chain until the final user, where they can be mixed. Certification Bodies checking that claims have the required approvals in place will check that the volumes for these claims have been sourced correctly, and at this point they may be from either scheme.
Can a supply chain actor mix UTZ or Rainforest Alliance Certified volumes with those certified by other schemes, or not certified at all?
Only when part of a mass balance supply chain, according to existing mass balance rules. Mutual recognition is being implemented between the UTZ and Rainforest Alliance certification programs – we are not recognizing other standards and schemes outside this.
Why are the fees changing?
In order to allow volumes to be used interchangeably at the end of the supply chain, it is important for us to align the fees charged by the Rainforest Alliance during this period of transition to the new certification system. We have been able to align the fees for tea at the lower level, therefore bringing an additional benefit to users of this program. For cocoa, we have chosen to align at a new rate that sits between the two existing schemes. There is no change for hazelnuts.
What will the fees be from July 1st 2019?
We are aligning the fees of our existing programs from July 1st in order to support mutual recognition. The rates that will be charged during the period of transition towards the new standard will be as follows:
- $12.50 per MT for tea (no change to the existing RA royalties, and replacing the current UTZ program fee from July 1st 2019)
- $12.90 per MT for cocoa (replacing the current RA royalty and UTZ program fees from July 1st 2019, and the current UTZ membership fee from January 2020)
- €30 per MT for the hazelnuts program fee (no change), membership fees continue (no change)
Will we also change the point in the supply chain where fees are collected?
Not at this point in time. We are still assessing the optimal rates, charging model and structure for the new scheme to be rolled out with the new standard, and do not want to require supply chains to implement more changes than necessary now.
Rainforest Alliance Sustainable Agriculture Standard / UTZ Code of Conduct Certification Holders
Can a producer now automatically sell their production as either UTZ or Rainforest Alliance Certified?
No. All producers need to continue to sell their products as UTZ or Rainforest Alliance Certified as based on their certification. They also need to continue to ensure that their sales are registered in the appropriate traceability system as per their current set up. Producers will however gain access to a broader customer base as a result of mutual recognition as supply chain actors can apply for mutual recognition of their Chain of Custody certification (see Guidelines), and know that their volumes can also be used to support brands wishing to make either claim from this launch onwards. This means that there will be a greater number of buyers that can purchase volumes from producers certified against either standard, without requiring any changes at the producer level.