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An update from the Rainforest Alliance and what Mutual Recognition with UTZ means

A lot has been going on recently at the Rainforest Alliance; back in January 2018 we joined forces with Dutch NGO UTZ with the aim to increase our impact and be a better partner to the many stakeholders we work with. Since then we have been working hard, developing a new strategy that builds on the best of both organisations, updating our brand identity to represent the new Rainforest Alliance as a bolder force for good, and most recently announcing our new certification seal. All major milestones on the way to developing the new 2020 Certification Programme.

Our mission, to create a better future for people and nature by making responsible business the new normal, is still at the heart of everything we do and has been the driving force behind the development of the 2020 Certification Programme that was published this June.

We would like to recap on the changes and improvements we’re making to our system, what companies need to know to stay up-to-date and how you can engage with us.

The 2020 Certification Programme – What to Expect

From our start in Central America more than 30 years ago, we’ve built an alliance that includes many stakeholders from farmers and forest communities, companies, and consumers—all of us working together to conserve critically important forests and cultivate more sustainable livelihoods. Today, we have sustainable agriculture training and certification, as well as landscape projects, in more than 70 countries around the globe.

Our certification programme is one of the largest in the world and provides important standards that farms and companies can use to demonstrate their commitment to the three pillars of sustainability—social, economic, and environmental.

In June 2020, the Rainforest Alliance took its first step on its journey towards “reimagining certification” with the publication of its 2020 Certification Programme. The new programme, is a unique opportunity to really change the way that certification works and how it delivers value to the many people and businesses around the world that use it. One of the ways we are doing this is by developing the standard with a set of principles to make certification more context specific, data driven, and risk-based. On top of this, the standard aims to make things simpler for farmers and supply chain actors, while strengthening the program in relation to some key areas such as; gender equality, assess and address, farm and group management and the economic viability of farming.

We will focus on rolling out the programme around the world through a comprehensive global training programme and further developing the supporting technology systems. Audits against the new programme will begin from June 2021. The current Rainforest Alliance and UTZ programs will continue to run in parallel as the transition across to our new standard takes place.

Of course, when developing a new programme, it is important to reflect on the impacts of our previous certification programmes. Our impact report looks back on lessons learned from the previous Rainforest Alliance and UTZ programmes and reviews independent research on the impacts of certification for each of our four primary crops: cocoa, coffee, tea, and bananas.

Our new Seal

Our new seal, announced in May, replaces the current Rainforest Alliance Certified™ seal and the UTZ label, and can be used on product packaging and communications assets from September 1, 2020.

The seal is a simple visual that shows consumers how to make a better choice. It demonstrates that farmers and companies are taking steps to make their products more sustainable and protect people and nature. Our fresh, modernized seal with a sleeker, more dynamic frog on product packaging is a way for brands to tell a story about the good that goes into their products.

Please visit our new seal landing page to learn more about how your business can use our new seal.

Mutual Recognition

From July 1st 2020 we will implement mutual recognition for coffee. 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 Certified seal or UTZ label on the pack, in accordance with the corresponding labelling rules.

In preparation for mutual recognition, our volume-based royalties/fees will be aligned between the UTZ and Rainforest Alliance programs by July 1, 2020. Coffee roasters and brands can benefit from claim-level mutual recognition. This means that they will be able to source Rainforest Alliance Certified™ and/or UTZ certified green coffee and then use either the Rainforest Alliance Certified seal or UTZ label on pack, in accordance with the labelling rules of the respective program.

Roasters buying UTZ certified coffee through to June 30, 2020 will continue to pay the UTZ program fee of US $26.50 per metric ton (MT) of UTZ certified green coffee traced/redeemed.

Then as of July 1, UTZ will align with the current Rainforest Alliance royalty for coffee: $33.07 per MT ($0.015 per pound) of green coffee, an increase of 0.3 US cents per pound. This alignment of costs in the supply chain is an important step in our journey toward a full integration of our two programs. Please have a look at our Mutual Recognition page for more information, which also contains Questions & Answers about the Scope and General, Claims, Supply Chains, Costs, etc.

Tell your sustainability story and #FollowTheFrog!

As more and more consumers seek products that do not compromise the health of the planet and the people producing them, working with the Rainforest Alliance offers an opportunity to tell your sustainability story. Our marketing team offers a range of services and opportunities to support you with that.

A great moment to get involved is our annual Follow The Frog campaign which takes place from 21-27 September. Join our annual B2B and B2C marketing campaign, and engage your consumers, employees and other stakeholders around your sustainability commitments and impacts, especially products that carry the “green frog” seal.

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