UTZ and Rainforest Alliance merger to set cocoa sustainability standards

By Douglas Yu contact

- Last updated on GMT

Cocoa farmers are expected to see increased savings upon merger between UTZ and Rainforest Alliance. Photo: UTZ
Cocoa farmers are expected to see increased savings upon merger between UTZ and Rainforest Alliance. Photo: UTZ

Related tags: Rainforest alliance, Mergers and acquisitions, Agriculture

Sustainability certification organizations, UTZ and the Rainforest Alliance, are expected to merge in the fall of 2017. 

Once the two organizations have merged, Han de Groot, current executive director of UTZ, will be the CEO. Nigel Sizer, current president of the Rainforest Alliance, will take on the role of chief program officer, advocacy, landscapes and livelihoods.

The organization will be named “the Rainforest Alliance,”​ and will tackle environmental and social issues around the world, including climate change, deforestation, poverty and unsustainable farming.

"Where possible, we will explore ways to increase the opportunities for joint audits. Companies should continue to work with either the Rainforest Alliance or UTZ in the same way as usual." - ​Han de Groot
Han de Groot 1
Han de Groot is currently the executive director of UTZ. Photo: UTZ

The future Rainforest Alliance will ensure more products are responsibly sourced, and work with farmers and companies to meet the growing demand for products with sustainable credentials​.

Chocolate companies maintain current logos

“Our goal is to publish one new standard in early 2019. Until then, both programs will continue to provide the same services that are currently offered,”​ Groot told ConfectioneryNews.

The one standard will be developed according to the Code of Good Practice for Setting Social and Environmental Standards of the ISEAL Alliance​, and it will set the bar for sustainable agriculture, simplifying the certification process for farmers, he added.

“Where possible, we will explore ways to increase the opportunities for joint audits,” ​he said. “Companies should continue to work with either the Rainforest Alliance or UTZ in the same way as usual.”

Groot added there is no need for companies to change existing packaging or materials. “They can continue using the UTZ logo and Rainforest Alliance seal as normal for the foreseeable future,”​ he said.

Increased savings for cocoa farmers

A more simplified certification process stemming from the merger will also affect supply chains in the long run, said Groot.

“The 182,000 cocoa, coffee and tea farmers who are currently certified under both standards will see increased savings, requiring only one audit instead of two,"​ he added.

“This helps increase efficiency which will benefit companies who are committed to making their supply chains more responsible.”

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