Back in 2017, two of the world’s largest certifiers of ethical cocoa, UTZ and Rainforest Alliance, announced they were merging. From September this year we’ll start to see the new logo on product packaging and a new, merged, production standard will come into effect from July next year.
Here at Just Kai, we’ve been on tenterhooks waiting for the announcement of the new standard. As discussed earlier, we feel that UTZ meets our minimum requirements for slave- and child-labour free cocoa but that the old Rainforest Alliance doesn’t. Which way will the new standard go? Will we suddenly find we have a host of new products to recommend (Whittakers peanut slabs and Magnum ice creams!) or will we need to remove all the currently-UTZ-certified items off our list?
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The new standard has now been published and we are, on the whole, pleased. Compared to UTZ, it seems most producers will be the same or better off under the new standard:
- we feel that Rainforest Alliance has good processes in place to check for both child and forced labour: the things that concern us most here at Just Kai;
- we expect that smallholder farmers (who make up 80-90% of cocoa producers worldwide) will, on average, be financially slightly better off than they were under UTZ. This will further reduce the risk of child labour on these farms, as poverty often drives parents to set their own kids to work on the family farm;
- unfortunately, we expect the 10-20% of cocoa producers who are employees working for wages will be worse off, both financially and in terms of health and safety.