Consumers purchased the equivalent of 320 million cups of Rainforest Alliance-certified coffee and 80 million Rainforest Alliance-certified chocolate bars last year, as the NGO expanded its reach despite the COVID-19 pandemic.
The group, which merged with UTZ in 2017, now works with 2.3 million certified farmers around the world, as well as 5,000 company partners, it said in its 2020 annual report.
In addition, there are now more than 6.8 million hectares of Rainforest Alliance or UTZ-certified farmland in 70 countries around the world, as well as 68 projects that are bringing direct benefits to farmers, forest communities and nature.
According to Santiago Gowland, who took over as chief executive of the Rainforest Alliance in May of this year, "My own guiding ethos is that as human beings we all share a simple principle: We care about what’s good for us, our communities, and the natural world that we all depend on. That’s why the Rainforest Alliance’s mission resonates so deeply for me.
"By acting collectively and sharing responsibility, we can build a more sustainable and resilient future—one in which people and nature thrive together."
In its report, Rainforest Alliance said that the communities it works with faced 'extreme financial uncertainty' last year, as supply chains were impacted by the pandemic – farmers couldn't travel to market to sell their crops, cooperatives couldn't export, crop prices fell globally, and a shortage of PPE equipment put workers at risk.
Rainforest Alliance was able to step in and offer supports to these communities, through fundraising, online/radio training courses, and other means.
"It’s been hugely energising to see how our alliance connects the rural communities who protect our forests and biodiversity with not only companies, governments, and local NGOs, but also with millions of passionate individuals around the world," said Gowland.
"The year 2020 brought extraordinary challenges—yet these inspiring partnerships only became stronger. And I, for one, feel much more hopeful because of it."
Rainforest Alliance recently unveiled a new certification programme based around four key principles: Improved Data Management, Continuous Improvement, Shared Responsibility and Context Adaptability.
Through this, the group aims to build climate resilience among its communities, cultivate rural prosperity, protect forests and biodiversity and advance human rights.
Earlier this year, coffee maker Jacobs Douwe Egberts (JDE) said that its sourcing of Rainforest Alliance/UTZ-certified coffee was temporarily affected by the blockage of the Suez Canal.
© 2021 European Supermarket Magazine. Article by Stephen Wynne-Jones. For more A Brands news, click here. Click subscribe to sign up to ESM: European Supermarket Magazine.