In 2020, the Rainforest Alliance launched the 2020 Certification Programme. This year is expected to see the roll-out of several changes under this new programme. Read this article to find out whether your farm and/or your company in the supply chain are impacted and what to do.
If you are already part of the current Rainforest Alliance or UTZ certification programmes, you will need to register and create your profile on the new Rainforest Alliance Certification Platform. This would allow you to transition and get certified under the new programme. Below is the plan for each group:
- Farm certificate holders may begin to register from 1 February 2021.
- Current chain of custody or supply chain certificate holders and supply chain actors can start their registration process from 15 March 2021.
- Retailers who have not previously been registered in the Rainforest Alliance certification system can begin the registration process from 12 April 2021.
Whichever group you are, the Rainforest Alliance will send an invitation email with the correct link when you are able to start your registration process.
For existing certificate holders, we urge you to complete the registration in order to transition before end of 2021. Any registration after 2021 will be considered as new entrant to the programme and this as such might impact the link to any volumes that late registerers still have in the current system.
To assist you in this process, the Rainforest Alliance has created a Transition Tool. Check out as it helps you understand the necessary steps for you to transition to the new programme. You can contact email@example.com if you have any questions or need technical support.
Vegetables and oil palm under the scope
The Rainforest Alliance has confirmed they will continue to work with certification partners on vegetables and oil palm.
The scheme currently has 97 existing vegetable certifications, representing over 80,000 hectares under improved management with over 48,000 farm workers benefitting from the certification programme.
Following the overall transition plan, current vegetable certificate holders will need to transition to the new programme and implement the requirements of the 2020 Sustainable Agriculture Standard which becomes mandatory on 1 July 2021.
The current Rainforest Alliance traceability system developed for fruits will be extended to cover vegetables. The scheme will provide training to certificate holders of both vegetable and fruits. Farms wishing to sell vegetables as Rainforest Alliance CertifiedTM, will also need to maintain a credible food safety certification, such as Global GAP or HACCP. For questions on vegetable certification, you may reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org.
As for oil palm, the Rainforest Alliance is conducting a consultation with existing palm certificate holders to understand the practical needs to enable this group to transition to the 2020 Certification Programme. Stakeholders can send any related questions on palm certification to PdenHartog@ra.org.
UEBT and Rainforest Alliance Herbs & Spices Programme
Herbs and species certified under the joint Herbs & Species Programme by the UEBT and the Rainforest Alliance will still be able to carry the Rainforest Alliance certification seal. The UEBT certification label is also available for certified ingredients.
The UEBT standard is complemented by selected requirements from the new Rainforest Alliance 2020 Sustainable Agriculture Standard. Together, these make up the UEBT/Rainforest Alliance requirements. The new programme applies to
- all ingredients for herbal and fruit infusions, including rooibos
- other herbs & spices, including vanilla, chili, or pepper.
Following are some important milestones for related certificate holders:
- January 2021: The UEBT/RA Field Checklist that compiles the UEBT/Rainforest Alliance requirements for farms was published.
- From January 2021: Farm certificate holders can start to contact UEBT at email@example.com to plan for the transition and/or future audits against the new UEBT/Rainforest Alliance Herbs & Spices requirements.
- March 2021: The schemes will publish the Certification Protocol that compiles certification and auditing rules of the UEBT/Rainforest Alliance Herbs & Spices Programme.
- From July 2021: Farm audits can begin against the new UEBT/Rainforest Alliance requirements.
- From January 2022: Auditing against the new UEBT/Rainforest Alliance requirements becomes mandatory for all farms that are in the scope of the Herbs & Spices Programme.
Or check the scheme’s official announcement for more information.
New certification applicants to current certification programmes
New farms seeking to become UTZ or Rainforest Alliance certified need to register in the corresponding platform (GIP or MTT for UTZ and to the certification body for Rainforest Alliance) by 31 March 2021. For chain of custody, the registration deadline for both UTZ system and the 2015 Rainforest Alliance system (including completion of chain of custody risk assessment and payment) is 15 February 2021.
Regardless of the registration or application date, all audits based on the current certification programmes and standards will end before 30 June 2021.
Photo (on top) courtesy of Finca San Fernando - a Rainforest Alliance certified coffee farm from El Salvador