Published on 8 August 2017

Our intended merger with the Rainforest Alliance is a major milestone in UTZ’s history. We see it as a chance to be more innovative together, and in partnership with our stakeholders. But what do our stakeholders think?

Reactions to the intended merger range from “deserving the Nobel Prize” to “good development, but why take the name Rainforest Alliance?” Here is a selection of responses from the market.

Reaction from companies

Nestlé’s Cocoa Manager Darrell High commented that Nestlé sees the intended merger as a positive move as, “it will lessen confusion and duplication at origin. The new organization can take the best from both UTZ and Rainforest Alliance. And it gives an opportunity to radically re-think the standard, making it more impact oriented.”

Meanwhile, Pascal Baltussen, Vice President of Commercial at Mars Chocolate said, “We have high expectations that this merger will result in a positive transformation of farmer livelihoods and land use practices on a greater scale, which is urgently needed.”

CEO, The Sustainable Trade Initiative

Reactions from other NGOs

We also received responses from respected certification program Fairtrade International and other NGOs.

“On behalf of the entire Fairtrade system, I want to congratulate everyone in both Rainforest Alliance and UTZ,” said Dario Soto-Abril, Global CEO of Fairtrade International. “I would like to reiterate our interest and willingness to work closely with the new organization to improve the livelihoods of workers and farmers across different supply chains.”

And Jason Clay, Senior Vice President, Markets and Food at WWF added, “This shift offers an opportunity to help marginal producers in developing countries realize higher returns for their products through the simplification of global certification programs. This should enable the adoption of better farming practices more quickly as well as continuous improvement in the production and sale of key commodities.”

Frank Mechielsen, Senior advocacy officer for sustainable food at Hivos commented:

Reactions from producers

The most important group to benefit are farmers themselves. The Colombian Coffee Growers Federation’s response was: “Thousands of Colombian coffee farmers will benefit from this development. It should bring great benefits to them, allowing coffee growers to invest more efficiently in sustainability and increase their income.”

The Colombian Coffee Growers Federation represents more than half a million families dedicated to growing coffee in Colombia. They are just a small proportion of the millions of farmers worldwide we aim to support as members of the new Rainforest Alliance.

Concerns raised

Although we hear a lot of excitement about the merger, concerns are also raised.

These include for example: “Why take the name Rainforest Alliance?” We are proud of our name. However, we believe Rainforest Alliance is a strong public facing brand that is already well recognized and respected. We want to play to this strength as well as UTZ’s strengths, which include our innovative way of bringing sustainable business practices to scale.

“Do we need to change our packaging?’ is another concern we often hear. Don’t worry. At this point in time you do not need to change your packaging or anything else. You can use the UTZ logo for the foreseeable future. Until the new standard is published, which is expected to be early 2019, both programs will continue to provide you with the same services we currently offer.

We aim to keep business speed throughout the merger process so that we create clarity as soon as possible. After the summer we will get back to you with more information about the timeline for the coming period. This will give you a better idea what to expect when.  Please know that you will have plenty of time to make any required transition in the future.

Let us know what you think

In the meantime…we appreciate your feedback, questions and concerns. Your input is important in helping us design the new organization. Please feel free to keep sharing with us via or leave your comment here. Read our other articles on the merger for more information.