FAQ: The Rainforest Alliance’s Mass Balance Sourcing Program

When the Rainforest Alliance CertifiedTM frog seal appears on products, it means that an ingredient specified on the packaging—such as cocoa or orange juice—has come from Rainforest Alliance or UTZ certified farms.

Companies know that an ingredient from certified farms is in each package because they must have systems in place throughout their supply chains—the system involved in manufacturing a product from supplier to consumer—that keeps the certified ingredient separate from non-certified ingredients in their facilities. This "segregated model" of production makes it possible to trace the certified ingredient inside the finished product back to the certified farm(s) where it was grown.

However, it is not always possible for companies to separate certified ingredients from non-certified ones in their facilities and supply chains due to the complexity of processing or high costs involved. This is especially the case for cocoa in chocolate products, as well as for orange juice, palm oil and coconut oil. For this reason, the Rainforest Alliance introduced a Mass Balance Sourcing program in 2017. This "mass balance" model of production allows companies to buy more ingredients from Rainforest Alliance Certified and UTZ certified farms, which means that farmers, the environment, and farming communities benefit from companies’ increasing purchases.

How does mass balance work?

Under this mass balance sourcing program, a company can claim on product packaging that a Rainforest Alliance Certified ingredient is sourced for a particular product if the volume of that ingredient purchased from certified farms matches at least 100% of the volume of that ingredient used in the manufacturing of the product. This means that while certified ingredients might not end up in every individual product (like a chocolate bar or bottle of orange juice), the supply chain is still buying those ingredients from Rainforest Alliance and/or UTZ certified farms and including them in the overall manufacturing of its recipes.

This video and infographic will help you understand and explain the concept of mass balance.

What are the benefits?

  • More farmers benefit: Mass balance allows more companies to source certified crops, which increases demand and means more farmers can benefit from higher productivity, a better environment and better living conditions associated with Rainforest Alliance and UTZ certification.
  • Farmers benefit equally: where the ingredient ends up doesn’t make any difference to the farmer. What’s important is that they sold their crop as certified, and certification contributes to higher productivity, incomes and better living conditions.
  • It’s credible: Through our traceability systems, companies and consumers can be sure the ingredients were grown on certified farms, even though they get mixed with non-certified ingredients later.

By purchasing products with the Rainforest Alliance Certified seal, consumers are helping to advance sustainable agriculture, improving living conditions for farmers and their families while protecting forests, wildlife, and the environment for future generations.

New Rainforest Alliance certification seal

We are proud to introduce the new Rainforest Alliance certification seal. The new seal is part of our new brand identity, following the 2018 merger between UTZ and the Rainforest Alliance and the development of our new organizational strategy. It replaces the current Rainforest Alliance Certified seal and the UTZ label, and can be used by our partners on product packaging and promotional materials from September 1, 2020. Learn more about the new Rainforest Alliance certification seal and guidance on how to use it.

Want to know more?

Learn more about the Rainforest Alliance’s cocoa certification program and the details and rules for the Mass Balance Sourcing Program.

Ramon nut, a sustainable superfood - photo by Sergio Izquierdo

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