Updated on July 10, 2019
With all of the sustainability certifications out there today, how do you know which one to trust? What makes one more credible than another? And most importantly, how can you feel secure in your decision to choose to work with the UTZ program or buy UTZ certified products?
It’s all about transparency
Britta Wyss Bisang, Chief Sustainable Supply Chains Officer, explains what you should look out for when deciding to trust a certification: “You need to look for transparency. A credible certification has its standards publicly available, is transparent about the traceability that supports the supply chain engagement, and, above all, is transparent about its impacts, both the positive achievements and the improvement points.” We as an organization believe in this open approach. At every step of the supply chain, we make our processes and standards available to the public, posting all relevant documents in our Resource Library for our stakeholders to read and share. These standards and processes are backed up through our adherence to the ISEAL Code of Good Practice for Assuring Compliance with Social and Environmental Standards (the ISEAL Assurance Code). ISEAL is a global membership organization of sustainability standards working to strengthen standard systems across the board. They have established the ISEAL credibility principles which represent the concepts and actions that underpin credible standards systems.
Our assurance model
These guiding principles are also reflected in our assurance model. This model outlines three important factors that are strictly controlled to ensure the quality of the UTZ program: certification, administration and validation. With a traceability system in place to track UTZ certified products throughout the supply chain and regular independent, third party audits carried out under strict guidelines, this model ensures that the UTZ Code of Conduct is upheld every step of the way. With 1.4 mio farmers and workers growing UTZ certified coffee, cocoa and tea, it is not our goal to police. Rather, through our assurance model we provide the means to create sustainable products and assure traceability from farm to shelf. Once farmers see the social, environmental and economic benefits of producing according to UTZ standards, like better farm management, increased efficiency and better environment, they enact behavior change for themselves.
Measure, evaluate, improve
But we don’t rely on the changes we witness alone. As Britta mentioned, monitoring and evaluation are vital parts of the UTZ program to maintain the credibility of our certification program. We regularly commission baseline studies and impact studies by independent researchers to measure our progress. The findings of these studies help us to continuously improve our work, making changes that lead to even bigger impacts. Because, at the end of the day, we know the UTZ standard is only meaningful if we find ways to improve the lives of farmers and the environment. These are the benefits that farmers, industry and consumers alike can enjoy and trust. Are you convinced the UTZ program is a credible standard? Then, join us now! Still have questions about the assurance system? Download our Certification Protocol or watch the two minute animation of the ISEAL Credibility Principles. We are a full member of the ISEAL Alliance and comply with the ISEAL Assurance Code. Any more questions? Send us an email.
In 2018, UTZ and the Rainforest Alliance merged. Until the launch of the new certification program in 2020, the two programs will run in parallel.