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Industry specific Standard: UTZ - for a sustainable farming

Posted by Bertrand Duteil on 01/12/2016

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Cocoa, tea and coffee are nowadays part of most of the groceries lists over the world. With a growing importance given to product quality and safety, the demand for sustainable and fair trade produced food is steadily increasing, pushing the food industry to adapt to new standards. For all involved parties down the supply chain, it means a high quality and full transparency for every product.

In our industry specific standards series, we will talk today about a standard promoting a sustainable agriculture: the UTZ.

The UTZ is an independent and international organization for cultivation, harvesting and production of sustainable farm products. The organization was founded in 2002 and is currently based in Amsterdam. The UTZ certification program offers several certifications for tea, coffee, cocoa and hazelnuts.

The organization promotes a sustainable cultivation method of agricultural products with better work conditions for farmers, farmworkers and their family and with an environmental protection approach. More than 20.000 products from 135 countries are already UTZ certified.

UTZ offers two different kinds of certifications. First certification for a responsible production that has already been adopted by large companies such as Mars, IKEA or Lavazza. Second certification has been tailored for farmers at the top of the production chain. A large number of farms and productions groups are already working with UTZ around the world:

  • 445.000 Coffee farmers and farmworkers in 23 countries
  • 465.000 Cocoa farmers and farmworkers in 19 countries
  • 71.000 Tee farmers in 12 countries
  • 2000 Hazelnuts farmers in Turkey

Basic principles of the UTZ standard

The generic UTZ standard is built on equity and transparency. There are two guidelines completing each other:

  • a “Code of conduct” rules the cultivation and the harvest
  • a “Chain of custody guideline”

The core principles of those guidelines and UTZ standards include:

  1. The standard is developed in close collaboration with the different concerned stakeholders
  2. A monitoring process operated by a special commission takes place for every teamplayer along the production chain
  3. The standard is based on the guideline of international work organisations representing the latest agreements, insights and experiences in sustainable agriculture.
  4. The UTZ is a member of the ISEAL Alliance, an international non-profit organization for sustainability standards. With the support of the ISEAL, the UTZ developed and adapted its guidelines to drive up the use of their standards globally.

The certification

Each product being UTZ certified needs to follow the Code of conduct related to the product being certified (ex: Code of conduct for cocoa) but also comply with the chain of custody guideline tailored for the manufacturing and trading companies along the supply chain.

  • Code of conduct for farmers:

The code of conduct contains guidelines for a sustainable farming model and fair work conditions. This document is revised and updated every 5 years. The producers are reviewed every year and must comply with the specifications for work safety, farming management, documentation management and environmental regulations.

  • Chain of custody guideline for companies:

The chain of custody certification ensures a fully transparent traceability of all ingredients along the supply chain. This traceability helps to monitor at any time how much and how many ingredients are UTZ certified and where they come from.

The certification process is operated by one of the 50 independent certifying bodies working with the UTZ. They control the certifying companies and issue the certification once the control is passed successfully.

The UTZ Label

There are two types of UTZ logos available.

  • Corporate logo

    The UTZ logo without the mention “Certified” can be used to identify companies working together with UTZ
  • Labelling logo

    The UTZ logo with the mention “Certified” can be used to identify certified ingredients of a product.

Further information

  • For more information about the UTZ and the different certifications programs on the official UTZ website
  • Download more information about the latest Chain of custody standard with the annexe about cocoa - PDF File


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Tags: tips