Rainforest Alliance and UTZ merger: Mutual recognition offerings in cocoa, tea and hazelnut program
The mutual recognition arrangements are cited as an important step that will simplify the transition into the new certification program for companies
20 May 2019 --- Beginning July 1, 2019, international environmental NGO Rainforest Alliance will be offering further mutual recognition offerings for its cocoa, tea and hazelnut programs, following its January 2018 merger with sustainable farming logo UTZ. Companies at the end of the supply chain will be able to source these listed Rainforest Alliance Certified and UTZ-certified ingredients (or a combination of both), and use either the Rainforest Alliance seal or UTZ labeling on product packaging, in accordance with local labeling regulations.
“We are working hard to bring the benefits of our merger directly to our partners, in the shortest possible time frame. The launch of this offering will ensure that farmers that invested in meeting our standards can soon access the fullest range of potential buyers we can connect them to,” Ruth Newsome, Senior Manager of Strategic Markets Solutions at Rainforest Alliance, tells FoodIngredientsFirst.
This is in addition to the Chain of Custody Mutual Recognition that has been effective since December 2018, which allows companies to purchase both Rainforest Alliance Certified and UTZ-certified ingredients while only having one Chain of Custody certificate in place for either one of the current programs. UTZ and Rainforest Alliance merged in January 2018, forming a single agricultural sustainability standard addressing environmental and social issues around the world, including climate change, deforestation, poverty and unsustainable farming.
To allow volumes to be used interchangeably at the end of the supply chain, volume-based fees for all cocoa and tea purchases will be aligned between the UTZ and Rainforest Alliance certification programs from July 1 this year, onwards. For cocoa, fees will be set to US$12.90 per MT. Tea fees will be lowered to US$12.50 per MT. No change in fee will be implemented for hazelnut products (US$33.48 per MT).
The organization cites these mutual recognition arrangements as an important step that will simplify the transition into the new certification program for companies. In addition, the certifier hopes to deliver the following benefits:
- Giving certified sustainable producers access to more markets – connecting demand for certified products with producers.
- Raising consumer interest in products by manufacturers certified against either the Rainforest Alliance or UTZ standard in cocoa, tea and hazelnuts.
- Providing companies that have struggled to meet ambitious targets due to limited supply in the regions they operate with new sustainable sources.
- Helping brands link all of their claims together, simplifying their message, and preventing a proliferation of messages that may confuse consumers. This also helps facilitate a move towards a new single seal in the future.
- Giving brands a larger time frame to plan the transition.
Innova Market Insights lists “Green Appeal” as its number 4 trend for 2019. This denotes how going green is becoming a given in the current climate, especially as 2020 targets draw ever closer. Showing a company’s green colors through actual environmental updates is something that today’s “mindful consumer” expects.
A previous 2018 Innova Market Insights survey found that 64 percent of US and UK consumers expect companies to invest in sustainability. The survey found that consumers’ environmental concerns outweigh social and ethical considerations in purchasing decisions.
By Benjamin Ferrer
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