As a consumer, my confidence has been boosted by this recent news:   FairTrade International will be working with two other certification bodies—Sustainable Agriculture Network (SAN)/Rainforest Alliance and UTZ CERTIFIED—to promote social justice and environmental sustainability.

The three sustainable agriculture organizations will cooperate to promote their common goal “of transforming global agriculture, production systems, and value systems to make them more sustainable.”

What will working together look like?  Though the three third party certifiers will continue to have different approaches and compete in the global marketplace, they will also work together to reduce complexity and costs for farmers.  One of their first projects will be streamlining auditing processes and making it easier for farmers to adhere to one or more sets of standards.

Some people have suggested that product certification is fragmented and confusing—because of the presence of several certifying bodies.   This group contends that continuing separate systems allows for diversity, choice, and innovative efforts. 

It will be up to producers, consumers, and traders to choose between different certification systems.

Thumbnail Introductions

FAIRTRADE INTERNATIONAL (FLO) has been supporting farmers and crafts people in developing countries since 1997.  Its standards require fair pay to producers, fair working conditions, safety standards, and environmental sustainability.  Its members include 20 National Labelling organizations and three regional producer networks.

RAINFOREST ALLIANCE/ SUSTAINABLE AGRICULTURE NETWORK (SAN)—The Rainforest Alliance logo stands for biodiversity, environmental protection, social equity, and economic sustainability.  Products bearing this label meet Sustainable Agricultural Network (SAN) standards. Based in the United States, Rainforest Alliance was founded in 1986 by environmentalist, David Katz.

UTZ CERTIFIED—UTZ emerged in 1997 as a project of Guatemalan coffee producers and a Dutch business, Ahold Coffee Company.  Its name, “UTZ”, means “good”, in Quichu, a Mayan language.  Products bearing this label have met the criteria of a code of conduct that includes agricultural, environmental, and social standards.


Joint Statement Fairtrade, SAN/Rainforest Alliance & UTZ Certified, February 14, 2011, at an ISEAL workshop event in Bern, Switzerland

Fairtrade International

Sustainable Agriculture Network (SAN)

RainForest Alliance

UTZ Certified


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