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Featuring the latest news on the coffee industry and business insight from senior members of the Bennetts team.

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Rainforest Alliance: The Little Green Frog

The little green frog of Rainforest Alliance is recognized around the world as a seal of certified environmental, social and economic sustainability.

The mission of Rainforest Alliance is to not only to promote environmentally sound agricultural practices; but to integrate biodiversity conservation, community development, worker’s rights and productive agricultural processes in order to establish sustainable business practices. Rainforest Alliance works with farmers to meet the comprehensive standards of the Sustainable Agricultural Network (SAN), a coalition of nonprofit conservation organizations. Achieving certification promotes efficiency on farms; resulting in a cleaner, safer workplace where workers rights are respected. Rainforest Alliance does not set minimum prices for agricultural products cultivated on certified farms; so RFA Certified coffee does not attract a price premium on the basis of its accreditation. However, through the implementation of sustainable business practices stems improved product quality and this often results in premium prices being paid for RFA Certified coffee. Certification also offers producers better access to specialty buyers, favorable credit options, publicity, technical assistance and premium markets.

The first coffee farm was RFA Certified in 1996 and today there are over 885 certified cooperatives and estates in different origins around the world. The certification program focuses on three pillars of sustainability; environmental protection, social equity and economic viability. The Rainforest Alliance believe that each of these pillars are connected and in order to run a sustainable business, success must be accomplished across all three. To achieve certification producers must adhere to a strict set of standards outlined by the SAN. These standards conserve biodiversity; ensure that soils, waterways and wildlife habitats are protected, and that farm workers enjoy decent housing, access to medical care and schools for their children. Producers must meet these standards and commit to a process of continuous improvement to gain certification. Certified farms are re-evaluated annually by local auditors to ensure they are continuing to make social and environmental improvements. Complying with the SAN standards can be costly for producers, and has been identified by farmers as a challenge in achieving certification. However the eventual results outweigh the initial costs with producers learning to farm intelligently, introduce effective organizational strategies and plan for the future.

Through funding from certification fees and donations, Rainforest Alliance conduct scientific research to assess the impacts and effectiveness of the program. This includes research conducted by Rainforest Alliance staff and partners, as well as independent impact studies performed by universities, non-profit groups and research organizations. Information regarding ongoing and recently completed research projects is available for public viewing on the Rainforest Alliance website.

As the certification program is not pricing based, roasters may purchase RFA Certified coffee at no extra premium, however they must be registered with Rainforest Alliance to promote the coffee as Rainforest Alliance Certified. RFA Certified coffees appeal to the ever-increasing group of environmental and socially conscious consumers, in addition to being perceived as a positive example of corporate social responsibility by the wider public. Gaining Rainforest Alliance accreditation also offers roasters access to a niche group of certified socially responsible estates, and can open up the market of green bean options.

The Rainforest Alliance little green frog represents much more than just environmental sustainability. Bennetts are committed to supporting our producers at origin, and the Rainforest Alliance Certified program is another initiative that we are proud to contribute to, helping us improve the quality of life for those around the world who depend on coffee as a livelihood.

To view our selection of RFA Certified coffees click here, or to find out more about the Rainforest Alliance visit www.rainforest-alliance.org

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