We understand that cost is an important factor when considering Rainforest Alliance certification. While costs vary depending on your work and your needs, this page gives you an overview of certification costs for farmers, certification bodies, and companies.
Cost of Rainforest Alliance certification for farmers
Farmers pay for audit services from the certification body of their choice. The Rainforest Alliance does not regulate these costs. The fees vary significantly depending on the size of the farm and location. Smallholders may want to organize and seek certification as a group to reduce expenses.
Farmers are also responsible for covering all costs associated with meeting the Sustainable Agriculture Standard. These costs may include: removing parts of their farm from production to comply with buffer-zone widths, implementing new management practices, or building new infrastructure. The Rainforest Alliance offers technical support to help farmers on the path towards certification. Contact a local Rainforest Alliance representative or trainer.
Costs for certification bodies
Certification bodies pay for accreditation against ISO/IEC 17065. There are a variety of accrediting entities and costs vary. Accreditation is a pre-requisite for becoming a Rainforest Alliance certification body.
Costs for companies
Rainforest Alliance certification comes with many benefits for companies. We provide systems to trace and verify certified products throughout the supply chain. We develop certification policies and standards, manage a certification database and a quality control system for certification bodies, and manage complaints and appeals. We offer field training and technical support to farmers, and we engage in advocacy activities to encourage sustainable government policies and programs. We also promote the Rainforest Alliance certification seal in the marketplace, measure its impact, and create communications tools to raise public awareness and support companies in their marketing efforts.
To benefit from Rainforest Alliance certification, there are four costs to companies, when applicable:
- The Sustainability Differential, which is the premium price paid to farmers by their buyers to reward them for implementing more sustainable farming practices and achieving certification. This amount is over and above the market price of the commodity in question and irrespective of any other (quality) premiums and differentials.
- An annual Chain of Custody Risk Assessment (CRA) fee, currently US$100 per site to cover administrative costs. Companies whose CRA indicates “very low risk” receive a Chain of Custody Endorsement and are not required to have an audit.
- Chain of Custody audit fees are applicable to companies whose CRA indicates low, medium or high risk.
- A volume-based royalty, once in each supply chain, based on the volume of certified goods purchased. The Rainforest Alliance License Agreement General Terms & Conditions outline the total amount of the royalty per certified product, how it is collected, and at which point in the supply chain it is invoiced. Royalties are applicable whenever companies claim that a crop is from a Rainforest Alliance Certified farm or sell it “as certified”. This happens whether the claim is on a product, on packaging, in a contract or invoice, or on promotional materials on or off line, regardless of whether our seal or other marks are used. Currently, royalties are collected on bananas, cocoa, coconut, coffee, orange juice, hazelnuts, tea and herbal infusions, including rooibos. We plan to implement royalties for all remaining certified crops in the future. The present rates vary by crop as follows.
Royalty by crop
$0.015 per pound of green coffee
$0.02 per box of bananas (18.14 kilogram)
$0.0129 per kilogram of cocoa beans
$0.0125 per kilogram of blended tea
$0.015 per pound of soluble orange juice solids
$32.00 per metric ton of crude coconut oil
€22.50 per metric ton of herbal infusion ingredients including rooibos
€30 per metric ton of hazelnuts plus UTZ membership fee. Please see here for details*
*Note that hazelnuts are currently certified under the UTZ certification program only even though they qualify for mutual recognition.
For more information about our royalty, please refer to the Rainforest Alliance License Agreement General Terms and Conditions.