The top 5 reasons why sustainable coffee, tea and cocoa taste a lot better

Coffee, tea and cocoa are some of our favorite daily indulgences. Check out these top 5 reasons to go sustainable!

Scaling_up_sustainable_farming_0021) Know where the product comes from

In today’s globalized world you probably use products from several different continents before you even leave the house in the morning. You gulp down a cup of coffee from Brazil, put on a t-shirt made in Bangladesh, use a toothbrush made in China, eat a banana grown in Uganda. Who can keep track anymore?

More and more of us are starting to wonder about the complex supply chains for everyday products. How can we know where these products really come from, and how they were produced?

A sustainability label like UTZ Certified means you can be sure that the company or brand sourced coffee, cocoa or tea from a farm that operates sustainably with respect for people and the planet. That’s because there are rigorous systems behind the scenes to make sure sustainable products are truly linked to sustainable sources.

In fact, some companies even make it possible to trace the coffee or cocoa in a pack all the way back to a specific farm. You can see all the farms that produce UTZ certified products here.

2) Farmer and worker livelihoods

Cocoa_Ghana_dryingbeans8Research shows that being part of a sustainability program like UTZ Certified leads to better livelihoods for farmers and better conditions for workers. Through training in good agricultural practices farmers can increase the amount their farms produce, leading to a better income.

For example, a recent study in Cote D’Ivoire found that UTZ certified farmers produced almost 40% more cocoa than non-certified farmers. Another study showed that the incomes of UTZ certified coffee farmers in Colombia were 65% higher than they would have been without UTZ.

3) Climate change

6Everybody knows that climate change is a massive problem. But it’s not just about polar bears and rising sea levels. Crops like coffee need very specific conditions to thrive, and farmers around the world are struggling with erratic weather patterns. That means higher production costs and lower yields: bad news for farmers, and bad news for everyone who enjoys a good cup of coffee. What can be done about this? We’re working with farmers to find ways to adapt. Find out more here.

4) Environmental protection

Tea_India_Compost_001Many farmers are struggling to cope with climate change, but all too often agriculture also contributes to the problem, through deforestation or waste production.

When coffee, cocoa or tea comes from UTZ certified farms, you know it has been produced with respect for the environment – for example, the protection of primary forest and water sources, promotion of biodiversity, and restrictions on the types of fertilizers and pesticides that can be used.


5) Be part of something bigger

More and more companies all over the world are making commitments to sustainability. UTZ labeled products have now been sold in 135 countries, reassuring consumers that the coffee, tea or cocoa was sourced from sustainable origins.

What does that mean? A greater impact for farmers and workers all over the world. And that tastes a lot better!Top-5-2

Better coffee and life quality in Brazil: meet the farmers

A recent study carried out among UTZ certified coffee farmers and workers in Brazil showed the positive effects of UTZ certification in social, environmental and economic areas.  90% of farmers interviewed mentioned that the UTZ program had been beneficial to them and they would recommend UTZ certification to other farmers.

Farmers’ views:


Read the full report, find the Key findings and learnings in the Report in a Nutshell and download UTZ’s Response to the report.

Meet some of the farmers in the states of Minas Gerais and São Paulo:


Sustainable hazelnuts – the next step towards making sustainability the norm

UTZ Hazelnut iconBlog by Hande Büyüklimanli, Program Manager for Hazelnuts. 

At UTZ Certified, our mission is to make sustainable farming the norm. Many UTZ members in the confectionary industry have already made huge commitments to sourcing sustainable cocoa, and they are looking for what else they can do.

That’s why, in early 2014, we began working with four founding partners Migros/Delica AG, Natra, REWE Group, and Jumbo Supermarket to develop a program for sustainable hazelnuts.

It was natural to begin in Turkey, which is the origin of around 75% of the world’s hazelnuts. More than 1,000 farmers from the Black Sea region took part in our pilot project in 2014. One of the main goals was to assess the current situation in the hazelnut sector in Turkey. Therefore we carried out a baseline study to identify the biggest challenges and find out how our program could have an impact. As with all UTZ programs, the standards for sustainable hazelnuts cover good agricultural practices, farm management, social requirements, and protection of the environment, but in the hazelnut sector there is a strong focus on social and economic issues – particularly working conditions.

We learnt a lot during our pilot year. We already knew that social and working conditions – child labor in particular – are among the main challenges in the sector, but the pilot allowed us to develop more in depth knowledge about the situation. Based on what we learnt we have developed a detailed strategy to be implemented and evaluated in 2015. What will be vital is addressing working conditions in training, and developing very close relationships with local government offices, NGOs and foundations. In order to tackle the root causes of issues like child labor, it will be important to seek input and commitment from the sector and all these stakeholders.

The baseline study also showed us that there is room for improvement in the productivity of hazelnut trees. Many trees are very old, so there needs to be some rejuvenation of the orchards. In addition, the timing and the method of pruning are important to ensure the trees bring the biggest possible yield. We will therefore ensure that this is a focal point in training materials and training sessions.

All of this research – as well as two rounds of public consultation – helped us come to the final draft of the Hazelnut Module of the Code of Conduct, which contains the requirements for hazelnut farmers that are applied alongside the Core Code for all products.

What’s next? There’s still a long way to go! This year, we’re thrilled that around 4,000 farmers from 11 different farmer groups will take part in the program. We’re stepping up the training in the field, to ensure these farmers are prepared and will really benefit from the UTZ requirements. We’re building our network with civil society and governmental organizations in Turkey to contribute to improving social conditions. We’ll continue monitoring and evaluating the program, to see how things change from the baseline study.

This year we set up our traceability system to trace the sustainably produced hazelnuts through the supply chain, and that will be put in action again for the 2015 harvest.

Also of vital importance is our focus on the market end of the supply chain, building demand for the sustainable hazelnuts that will come onto the market in late 2015 and the following years. After all, it’s only by connecting the two ends of the supply chain – by stimulating by supply and demand of sustainable hazelnuts – that we will really be able to make sustainable hazelnut farming the norm.

Specialty coffee and sustainability: reflections on the SCAA 2015

Miguel Zamora, Business Development

MiguelI’ve been attending the Speciality Coffee Association of America (SCAA) event for 10 years now, and I’m always struck by the passion and enthusiasm of everyone who attends. From farmers, industry and NGOs alike, it’s great to be among a group of people who are all focused on coffee, and so many who are focused on sustainability all across the supply chain.

A highlight for me was the panel event on farmworkers in coffee. It might have been the very first time in SCAA history that a farmworker actually presented at a panel: Marlene, who I have known for a few years now, made a heartfelt plea to the industry about the need and importance to support and improve the situation of coffee workers worldwide. The other participants, from industry and NGOs, made the case about why industry should get involved in understanding and improving the situation of farmworkers in coffee. The ethical case (a human case) about the need to support the most marginalized group involved in coffee. And the business case of minimizing brand risk and supply risk by avoiding the worst cases of labor abuse and securing the well-being of those who pick the coffee we use all over the world.

Another highlight was participating and contributing in several discussions with industry, farmers and NGOs about climate change adaptation and mitigation, gender in coffee, productivity and profitability at farming level, food security, water use and preservation in the coffee lands.

It was also fantastic to meet with industry and sustainability leaders, and with our partners, including Massimo Zanetti, Gavina Coffee, S&D Coffee, among others. At UTZ we are glad we can be a sustainability partner for the coffee industry and collaborate in designing solutions for the challenges and opportunities we face together.

What’s clear is that sustainability and quality go hand in hand. And the challenge to secure the long-term sustainable supply of specialty coffee is real. We are eager to continue supporting our partners and the industry in general to make sustainable farming the norm and create a more sustainable coffee industry. I came away really excited about the future of specialty coffee!

Brigitta Nemes, Relationship & Customer Marketing Manager

brigi_nemesAt this year’s SCAA it was great to see that gender and youth were on the agenda – both are incredibly important topics in coffee production, and close to our hearts at UTZ Certified.

At a panel discussion on gender, we heard that women do a big proportion of the agricultural work in coffee production, but often farms owned or taken care of by women have lower production. It’s a complicated issue with many causes, but one of the factors is that women are too often excluded from training. That’s why the UTZ program includes specific control points requiring equal access to training. Why should we be interested in this? CQI (Coffee Quality Institute) shared some fascinating figures on what would happen if women had equal opportunities to men:

  • Yield increase of 20% – 30%
  • Increase agricultural output 2.5% – 4%
  • Reduce the number of the world’s hunger bu 12% – 17%
  • When women have greater status, the family allocate more income to child health, nutrition and education

It was also good to see dialogue around the issue of young people in the coffee sector. With the average age of coffee farmers continuously on the rise, as an industry we need to think about the future – how can we make coffee farming a viable option for the tech savvy younger generation? Through technology they already have acquired more skills than their parents had at their age. They might not be that interested in becoming solely a coffee farmer. Diversification (e.g. growing other crops or engaging with other activities e.g. crafting) was one of the main ideas on the table, with the importance of collaboration always high on the agenda.


Some of the UTZ team with representatives from Massimo Zanetti MZB

Meet the farmers: Mouton Citrus, South Africa

Mouton Citrus is a family owned business, and one of South Africa’s leading grower-exporters of quality citrus and Rooibos tea. The farm is located in Citrusdal, in the Olifants River Valley in the Western Cape province, at the base of the Cederberg Mountains and about 160 kilometres (100 mi) north of Cape Town.

Mouton Citrus has around 600 hectares of land dedicated to cultivating rooibos, a crop that is unique to South Africa. All of the rooibos produced at the farm is eventually processed for the Carmien brand. The farm has been UTZ Certified since 2011. 1482 people (employees and their families) depend on the farm for their livelihoods.

“Everyone here has great respect for the UTZ logo … it is nice for us to be part of UTZ and to be able to explain to the workers that this is an organization that we have chosen to walk this path with.” Johannes Phielander, Team Leader and Driver.



“UTZ requires more hygiene training during induction training. Before we only did induction training for Citrus workers, but after UTZ certification we do induction training for Rooibos workers as well, concentrating on harvesting procedures. UTZ is also focussed on PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) and therefore we have provided our seasonal workers with a second set of PPE clothing.” Madelé Mouton, Owner/Manager.

Anne-Marie Booise“Anne-Marie Booise started out as a general worker on the Mouton Citrus farms. By showing exceptional leadership ability she quickly moved through the ranks to become a team leader during harvesting time. Her team consistently is one of the top 5 teams from the 40 teams at Mouton Citrus when it comes to performance. Furthermore she is constantly chosen among her peers to represent them on worker committees at one time having had the role of worker committee chairman. Apart from leadership she has also shown great comprehension for the technical side of farming. There she excelled in her role as pest monitor and in 2015 she was appointed the first ever irrigation operator of Mouton Citrus. Typically a position dominated by men in South African agriculture. She will take full responsibility for a new development with state of the art drip irrigation technology. This position requires a good understanding of irrigation principles and be adept with a computer. Anne-Marie has also had greater access to training opportunities due to the emphasis UTZ certification places on this. She is also a mother and wife and constantly takes up the plight of her larger community of farm workers. We are very proud of Anne-Marie!”

Find out more about Mouton Citrus and other members of the UTZ Certified rooibos program in a recently published research study. 

International Women’s Day – Empowering Female Farmers

Blog by Britta Wyss-Bisang, Standards Director at UTZ Certified.

We’ve all heard the phrase “give a man a fish, and you feed him for a day; show him how to catch fish, and you feed him for a lifetime” but as we celebrate International Women’s Day this weekend we ask – what about the women?

International Women’s Day has been celebrated for over 100 years, having its roots in the labor movement of the early 20th Century.   It has become something of a tradition for public figures and celebrities to mark the occasion, via speeches or social media posts, and this year, we can expect celebrations on a massive scale. Hundreds of events will take place all over the world. And you know an occasion has really made it into the public consciousness when it gets its own ‘google doodle’.

Since International Women’s Day was first celebrated much has changed for women, yet, as we are all too aware, there is a long way to go. From people trafficking, child marriage and FGM, to pay equality and political representation: there are still many serious challenges to be overcome.

But one area that doesn’t tend to make the headlines is women in agriculture.

There are at least 560 million female farmers and farm workers in the world, and women comprise, on average, 43 percent of the agricultural labor force in developing countries. These women face their own set of challenges.

On average, male farmers produce around 20 to 30 percent more than female farmers. There are several reasons for this. Access to credit, and therefore to inputs like fertilizer, is significantly lower for women. Female farmers tend to have lower levels of education than their male counterparts. One of the most important obstacles to equality is land tenure, as in many countries only a tiny proportion of landholders are women.

Laura Turquet from UN Women, the UN organization dedicated to gender equality, sums it up when she says “in recent years, rising and volatile global food prices, as well as large-scale dispossession of agricultural land, have combined to produce adverse outcomes for poor and marginalized farmers, especially women, these women face particular issues when it comes to securing land rights, and gaining access to agricultural inputs services and markets”

Many of these are structural problems that require joint efforts from the world’s governments, corporations and civil society, as well as major attitude shifts in society as a whole. But there are things that can be done.Gender-equality-in-UTZ-CoC

At UTZ Certified, there are three sides to our approach: we aim to increase the number of women included in our program, to improve their access to benefits, and to reduce the discrimination and violence that women can be subject to on farms and plantations.

At UTZ, we may not be teaching women to fish – but through our program we want to empower female farmers to lift themselves, their families and their communities out of poverty. And as this short film shows – when you empower women you help feed us all for a lifetime!Infographic_001Infographic_002
























Graphics: ALVARO VALIÑO for National Geographic.

International Women’s Day: Meet the Farmers

The Honde Valley Tea Growers Association in Zimbabwe has been UTZ certified since 2014. There are currently around 565 smallholders working with UTZ, but they are planning to increase this to over 900 in the coming year.

Meet some of the inspiring women who are part of the cooperative.