The two biggest certification organisations in the cocoa sector, Rainforest Alliance and UTZ, announced their intention in June 2017 to merge in the course of the year. By the start of 2019 the certifiers intend to publish a new, common standard, according to the INKOTA network.
The new organisation under the name Rainforest Alliance will create a joint global certification standard which will simplify certification for farmers. The new sustainability standard will combine the strengths of the current SAN and UTZ standards and be known as the stand-alone Rainforest Alliance Standard. The future Rainforest Alliance will continue to be a member of the Sustainable Agriculture Network (SAN).
Certificate holders will then only have to go through a single audit process. As a result, it will be easier for farmers, producer cooperatives and companies to obtain meaningful sustainability certification, allowing them to push ahead with innovations in their delivery chains, the Rainforest Alliance announced.
Streamlining the certification process will also benefit 182,000 cocoa, coffee and tea planers who are currently certified twice (once by each standard). New farms in the system will benefit from the ability to invest more efficiently in sustainability and will also be freed from the administrative double burden of working with two standards and certification systems.
Together, UTZ and Rainforest Alliance certify almost 40 per cent of the global cocoa harvest. However, the certifiers are being criticised for their low standards, according to the INKOTA network. Unlike e.g. Fairtrade, neither Rainforest Alliance nor UTZ have a guaranteed minimum price for cocoa. INKOTA criticises that in the current situation, in which the cocoa price has slumped by more than a third within just a few months, they accordingly do not offer the farmers any protection.
Author: (Rainforest Alliance/INKOTA/ile)