What Does Rainforest Alliance Certified Mean?

The Rainforest Alliance seal signifies positive change in the world. It is a symbol of shared responsibility and collective action—one that amplifies and reinforces the beneficial impacts of responsible choices, from farms and forests all the way to the supermarket check-out.

The little green frog is the star of our seal for a reason. Frogs are indicator species whose presence represents a healthy ecosystem. The frog symbolizes our role as a leader along the journey to a world where people and nature thrive in harmony. For all of the members of our alliance―farmers, foresters, companies, and consumers―that journey is defined by continuous improvement, transparency, and deep commitment to a better future for our world.

What does the Rainforest Alliance seal mean?

Planetary health is an ongoing dance of interdependence. Our approach to sustainability recognizes that the essential elements of this dance are inseparable: ecosystem health, human rights, and improved rural livelihoods. Likewise, our green frog seal indicates that a farm, forest, or tourism enterprise has been audited against rigorous certification standards that require meaningful steps toward long-term environmental, social, and economic sustainability.

new Rainforest Alliance certification seal

the new Rainforest Alliance seal

By choosing products with our little green frog, you are participating in something bigger than yourself. With this one small choice, you are using your purchasing power to contribute to a larger movement for positive change—one that supports the livelihoods of farmers and forest producers who are similarly committed to building a more sustainable world.

Our growing global alliance includes consumers like you––along with businesses, farmers, and forest communities—who are working together to transform our relationship with the land and with each other.

Which sustainability standards do we put our seal on?

When the Rainforest Alliance seal appears on agricultural products—such as coffee, tea, cocoa, or bananas—it means that the product or an ingredient specified on the packaging was grown on farms certified to either the Rainforest Alliance Sustainable Agriculture Standard or the UTZ Code of Conduct. And for herbs and spices, we recognize the Union for Ethical Biotrade (UEBT) standard with additional requirements from the Rainforest Alliance Sustainable Agriculture Standard.

On forestry products, such as paper and packaging, our seal means that the product or package is sourced from forests certified to the standard of the Forest Stewardship Council®, of which the Rainforest Alliance is a founding member.

In addition, tourism businesses, including hotels and tour operators, may be eligible to use our little green frog when they achieve certification according to NEPCon’s Sustainable Tourism Standard, recognized by the Global Sustainable Tourism Council. Visit our Green Your Vacation page to find Rainforest Alliance Certified tourism businesses.

We believe in these standards and lend them our seal because they encompass all three pillars of sustainability—social, economic, and environmental—and have credible systems in place to verify that their requirements are followed. These standards help to address four main areas of sustainability:

What is certified in a product bearing the Rainforest Alliance seal?

Products bearing the Rainforest Alliance seal 

Products bearing the Rainforest Alliance seal 

For some products (including most coffee and tea), the seal indicates that 90-100 percent of the certified ingredient contained in the package was grown on Rainforest Alliance Certified and/or UTZ certified farms. This is because the companies making these products have systems in place to keep the certified ingredient separate from non-certified ingredients. 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.

For other products, such as herbal infusions (“herbal tea”) and palm-oil soaps, companies may not be able to buy enough certified ingredients to have a fully segregated supply. In this case, the manufacturers may begin their sustainability journey by including a minimum 30-40 percent proportion of the certified ingredient, as long as they note the percentage on their product packaging. This allows companies to start supporting the farms certified for these crops as they work with us to increase the supply by training and certifying more farms to our standards.

For some products––like cocoa, orange juice, palm oil, and coconut oil––the higher cost of segregation (such as separate tanks and silos) would divert funds away from investing in more sustainable farming practices that protect nature and improve the lives of farmers and their families. Companies often use a "mass balance" model of production that enables companies to buy more of these ingredients from Rainforest Alliance Certified and/or UTZ certified farms.

What is mass balance and how does it work?

A company can claim on product packaging that a specified ingredient—for example, cocoa for a chocolate bar—has been sourced from Rainforest Alliance Certified or UTZ certified farms if the overall quantity of that ingredient purchased by the company from certified farms is equivalent to the total quantity of that ingredient used in manufacturing the product. So, for every gram of cocoa in that chocolate bar, you can be certain that a gram of cocoa has been purchased from a certified farm. This means that while certified ingredients might not end up in every individual product with our seal, the supply chain is still buying the equivalent quantities of those ingredients from Rainforest Alliance and/or UTZ certified farms and including them in the overall manufacturing of its recipes.

This video and infographic explains the concept of mass balance:

Mass balance makes it more affordable for companies to source certified crops, thereby increasing the demand. This, in turn, means that more farmers can benefit from the social and economic advantages (including higher incomes and better working conditions) associated with our certification programs. Farmers benefit from this increased demand for certified crops, regardless of how the ingredients are processed. Our traceability systems ensure that the volumes of certified ingredients specified in company claims were grown on certified farms, even if they are mixed with non-certified ingredients later.

We Thrive Together

The Rainforest Alliance seal shows that farmers, foresters, and companies are taking concrete steps to make their products and supply chains more sustainable. By choosing these products, individual consumers also contribute to a world where people and nature thrive in harmony.

Ramon nut, a sustainable superfood - photo by Sergio Izquierdo

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