Updated on May 25, 2020

The UTZ program has grown massively since its launch at a single coffee estate in Guatemala in 2002. In fact, it is still the world’s biggest certification program for sustainable cocoa and coffee. But just how big is it? Phan Ha, Senior Data Analyst, looks at the data for 2019 and explains that there are many different ways to understand the size and reach of UTZ program.

More than 1.1 million farmers

“A clear way to see the reach of the UTZ program is in the number of farmers and workers who are part of the program” Phan says. In 2019 more than 1,1 million farmers were UTZ certified. Around 309,000 of them produce coffee, 772,000 produce cocoa, and 13,000 grow tea. Farmers own their land or run their own business. These farmers together employed over 300,000 workers, either permanently or during particularly busy seasons such as harvests. Out of them, 202,000 work on coffee plantations, 23,000 on cocoa and 82,000 on tea farms. Estimates vary a lot for how many cocoa, coffee and tea farmers and workers there are in total, in all countries around the world. For cocoa, one of the most reliable sources is the Cocoa Barometer, which estimated that there were more than 5.5 million cocoa farmers worldwide in 2015. That would mean that approximately 14% of all cocoa farmers are UTZ certified.

More than 3.3 million hectares of farming land

In total, UTZ certified farmers cover an area of more than 3.3 million hectares. That’s around 33,000 square kilometers, which is larger than the total area of Belgium.

The geographical reach of the UTZ program

The data on the hectares of farming land must be seen as approximate, as it is based on an estimate calculated by farmers. It can be challenging to do this accurately, as farmers don’t always have access to GPS or other measuring tools. To make sure the data is as accurate as possible, we provide guidance on the best ways to make the estimate, and auditors check that a good method has been used.

Coffee, tea and cocoa produced in 43 countries

“UTZ is truly a global program”, Phan says. “UTZ certified coffee, tea and cocoa are grown in 43 countries around the world.” Every year we report on how much certified coffee, tea and cocoa volumes are estimated by UTZ certified farmers. Just like the data on hectares of farming land, production data is estimated by farmers and submitted to us once a year, looking forward to the upcoming harvest. We offer our guidance to farmers on how to do this, but it can still be difficult. Farmers must make the estimate for the whole year, often before the main harvest period. The previous year’s average yield can be used as a basis, but a change in weather conditions or farming practices could make a big difference. Certification bodies check the figures during the audit to make sure it was calculated using a credible method.

In 2018, UTZ certified farmers produced approximately 1.6 million tons of cocoa, 1.1 million tons of coffee, and 1.2 million tons of tea.

Coffee, tea and cocoa sold as UTZ certified

If a farmer passes an audit on the UTZ standards, he or she can sell these crops as UTZ certified. This means that the first buyer pays a premium on top of the market price, and the sale will be recorded in our online traceability system – so we know exactly how much was sold and bought as UTZ certified. The volume sold as UTZ certified is always smaller than the volume produced. Find out why here.

144 consuming countries

In 2019, you could find UTZ labeled products in 144 countries. Around 1300 companies sourced UTZ certified cocoa, coffee, and tea; enough to make 70 million bars of chocolate, 160 million cups of coffee, and 10 million cups of tea every day. Phan concludes: “The data can be complicated, but no matter which measure you use, we can see that the UTZ certification program has an enormous reach!”

2019 Coffee, tea and cocoa certification data

The new certification data reports are available here.