In June 2017 the Rainforest Alliance announced our intention to merge with UTZ. A lot of work has been done over the past months to bring this to fruition. The legal merger is expected to be complete in January 2018 and we will start working in the new year to build our merged organization, which will continue to carry the name the Rainforest Alliance.
What has been decided so far and what does it mean for our collaborating companies? Here are some of the updates and key points:
Market consultation: have your say
At the beginning of 2018, we will conduct market research and open a broad consultation process to develop our full value offering to companies, including labeling, the fee structure and marketing approaches. We hope many partners will take the opportunity to provide feedback and input to help shape our new organization. We will also consult on how to best manage the transition to the new certification program. More details on how to be involved in this consultation will be shared in January.
Future of the UTZ label and the Rainforest Alliance seal
It has already been confirmed that the new organization will take the name of the Rainforest Alliance. Alongside this, we will continue using and building on the Rainforest Alliance Certified™ ‘green frog’ seal. We made this choice due to the strong brand recognition in many key markets – it is a valuable asset for our organization and the seal using companies worldwide.
The future of the UTZ label will be included in the consultation. This will enable creation of a new value offering that carries forward the most important elements of the UTZ and Rainforest Alliance programs.
2019: publication new certification program
In 2019 we will publish our new certification program, bringing together and building upon the best of the current UTZ and Rainforest Alliance systems. It will include one new standard for producers and one new chain of custody. There will also be a new fee structure and labeling policy for companies sourcing certified ingredients. Companies that previously underwent separate UTZ and Rainforest Alliance certification audits and processes will enjoy the efficiency and benefit of a single standard.
UTZ label transition period: at least 3 years
Companies that source UTZ certified products can continue to submit UTZ labeling approval requests for at least three years after the publication of the new certification program in 2019.
UTZ and Rainforest Alliance labels/seals are not interchangeable
The UTZ and Rainforest Alliance certification programs will run in parallel until the publication of the new program. This means that UTZ certified ingredients can only be sold, sourced and labeled as UTZ certified, and Rainforest Alliance Certified™ ingredients can only be sold, sourced and labeled as Rainforest Alliance. It is not possible to source UTZ products and label them with the Rainforest Alliance seal or vice versa.
For now: business as usual
Companies do not need to change sourcing or labeling yet. The UTZ and Rainforest Alliance programs will continue to run separately until publication of the new certification program in 2019, and then there will be a transition period for farmers to begin producing ingredients certified against the new standard. We will guide companies and stakeholders through a step-by-step transition to the new certification program, which will give ample time to make any necessary changes.
Please see our comprehensive Q&A for more details. https://www.rainforest-alliance.org/faqs/rainforest-utz-merger
Questions? Connect with your Rainforest Alliance or UTZ contact person, or email the Rainforest Alliance at firstname.lastname@example.org