Fair Trade USA and UTZ Certified are piloting a collaborative cocoa certification scheme that they say will reduce costs for farmers looking to get dual certification.
A spokesperson for UTZ Certified, told ConfectioneryNews that the partnership between the two boards was first and foremost conceived for the benefit of the farmers. They said farmers would be able to obtain UTZ Certified and Fair Trade USA certification with one single audit – something the organizations hoped would broaden market options and reduce costs for the producers.
“Neither UTZ Certified nor Fair Trade USA charges an application fee for farmers. However, the farmers invest in certification by paying for the audit. Where, in the past, farmers seeking dual certification had to comply with two complete sets of requirements and undergo and pay for two different audits, in this collaboration one single audit will suffice,” the spokesperson said.
They added that the cocoa partnership was currently just a pilot. “We will be assessing the results and benefits for the farmers involved. If the results are as beneficial as we anticipate, extension to other commodities will certainly be considered,” UTZ said.
Bigger opportunities, smaller costs and aligned standards
The spokesperson said the team up was a "win-win" situation for the duo, and something they hoped would help farmers, “enlarge their market options".
"Through this work, we aim to drive broader market access, increase social and economic benefits, and significantly reduce the cost of being certified against two programs. Concretely, it means that certified farmers will have better access to markets with little additional costs," they said.
The single audit process would mean complying with the UTZ code and a module on Fair Trade USA standards, which included minimum price and community development premiums. The audits would be conducted by an independent body, which had received training in both standards. They said this meant there would be one point of contact for the farmers, leading to greater cost and time efficiency.
Asked if the unification had required any adjustments for either standard body, they said: "In essence, the collaboration is an expression of the mutual acknowledgement of the value both of our programs offer. It means that in the pilot, Fair Trade USA acknowledges the UTZ Certified code of conduct as the foundation for certification, with the addition of specific requirements, including the minimum price and community development premiums."
"The module defining these additional requirements is at present being defined in full detail and will become effective shortly," the spokesperson added.