The Rainforest Alliance, Fairtrade International, and UTZ are different organizations that all share similar missions and goals.
All three believe in the urgent need to transform agricultural practices and share the belief that certification by credible systems such as ours are able to help with that transformation. All three organizations are committed to working towards tackling unsustainable production and market practices. We also share a commitment to high standards in our work, which is why we are all members of ISEAL, the global association for social and environmental standards which works with companies, nonprofit organizations, and governments to support their use of voluntary standards. We are also members of the Global Living Wage Coalition, an ISEAL facilitated initiative that recognizes that living wage is crucial to individual certification programs, and so we have agreed to a shared approach for measuring living wage.
It is important to note that these labels are not mutually exclusive, and that you can often find products with more than one of these seals.
In 2014, the State of Sustainability Initiatives Review completed a study which reviewed independent organizations on social, environmental, and economic indices. The Rainforest Alliance/Sustainable Agriculture Network scored the highest overall average (84 percent) in terms of social impact, above Fairtrade (73 percent), UTZ (58 percent), and Organic (51 percent).
Rainforest Alliance and UTZ Certified
The Rainforest Alliance and UTZ share very similar missions. However, UTZ works only in agricultural certification, whereas the Rainforest Alliance's certification covers multiple sectors, including forestry and tourism as well as agriculture. We also offer a portfolio of services such as corporate advisory, field implementation projects, and more. In early 2017, the Rainforest Alliance and UTZ announced the intention to merge in the fall of 2017. The new organization will create a single agriculture sustainability standard, simplify the certification process, and continue to improve livelihoods for farmers and forest communities.
Some points of difference between the Rainforest Alliance and Fairtrade
The Rainforest Alliance differs from Fairtrade in the focus and strategy of their missions.
Fairtrade's standards are designed to tackle poverty and empower producers in the world’s poorest countries, giving them a guaranteed price for their products. Rainforest Alliance certification focuses on how farms are managed, with certification being awarded to farms that meet the comprehensive standards of the Sustainable Agriculture Network (SAN), a coalition of local, grassroots organizations. The SAN standard encompasses all three pillars of sustainability—social, economic, and environmental—and empowers farmers with the knowledge and skills to negotiate for themselves in the global marketplace. Rainforest Alliance certification and trainings (including a newly launched Farmer App) are teaching farmers, farm workers, and their families to farm efficiently and responsibly, growing their bottom lines today and conserving the fertile soils and natural resources on which they and their children will depend in the future.
The Rainforest Alliance works with farmers, foresters, communities, landscapes, businesses, and brands to address three areas of impact: to transform land use practices, business practices, and consumer behavior.