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UTZ Certified

UTZ Certified

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UTZ CERTIFIED is a certification program for agricultural products launched in 2002 which claims to be the largest coffee certifier in the world. It was formerly known as Utz Kapeh. On the 7th of March, 2007, the Utz Kapeh Foundation officially changed its name and logo to UTZ CERTIFIED 'Good Inside'. UTZ CERTIFIED is a foundation for the worldwide implementation of a baseline standard for responsible coffee, cocoa, tea and rooibos growing and sourcing. UTZ certified cooperatives, estate farms and producer groups comply with the Code of Conduct for the respective products. This Code is an internationally recognized set of criteria for professional coffee growing, which includes socially and environmentally appropriate coffee growing practices, and efficient farm management.

UTZ CERTIFIED Good Inside products are traceable from grower to end product manufacturers (e.g. in coffee this is the roaster); they operate an advanced web-based track-and-trace system, showing the buyers of UTZ certified products credibly link to the certified source(s). Some coffee brands and retailers also provide their customers with this transparency through online coffee tracers. UTZ certified coffee is sold in more than 20 consuming countries, including the Netherlands, Belgium, France, UK, Scandinavia, Switzerland, Japan, US and Canada. UTZ CERTIFIED coffee producers are located in Latin America, Asia and Africa. With an expanding range of agricultural products, like cocoa, tea, rooibos tea, palm oil and cotton the presence of UTZ Certified is in a growing number of producing and consuming countries.

Code of Conduct

The UTZ certification program is based on the UTZ CERTIFIED Code of Conduct: a set of social and environmental criteria for responsible coffee-growing practices and efficient farm management. Coffee producers who are UTZ certified comply with this code. The Code of Conduct version 2009 is based on the international [ILO] Conventions and good agricultural practices. The Code has been developed in a broad stakeholder process and therefore widely accepted. It is based on the principle of continuous improvement. Producers comply from year 1 with core safety and quality standards. In the next year additional control points are added.

Summary of the Code of Conduct

The criteria of the UTZ CERTIFIED Code of Conduct fall into three categories:

Good Agricultural & Business practices
  • monitoring business processes
  • record-keeping of fertilizers & agro-chemicals
  • good housekeeping practices
  • workers trained properly
  • implementation of accident and emergency procedures
  • implementation of hygiene rules and practices
  • traceability of coffee
  • annual internal inspections

Social Criteria
  • workers are protected by national laws and ILO conventions regarding age, working hours, pensions, working conditions, collective bargaining and safety
  • workers receive training in their own language about safe handling of chemicals
  • workers receive protective clothing for the use of chemicals
  • access to health care for the workers and their families
  • access to education for children
  • access to decent housing
  • access to clean drinking water
  • freedom of cultural expression

Environmental Criteria
  • reduce and prevent soil erosion
  • responsible and minimal use of agrochemicals
  • implementation of Integrated Pest Management
  • minimize water usage and environmental pollution
  • minimize energy use
  • optimize use of sustainable energy sources
  • treatment of contaminated water
  • protecting water sources
  • no deforestation of primary forests
  • use of native tree species as coffee shade trees
  • protecting endangered species


Independent auditors make annual inspections to ensure coffee producers comply with the Code of Conduct.

Certification Body
A Certification body (CB) is an independent, third-party certifier with ISO 65 accreditation. When approved by UTZ CERTIFIED, the CBs conduct annual certification inspections of coffee producers to determine whether they comply with the UTZ CERTIFIED Code of Conduct and Chain of Custody requirements.

Trained Agronomists
An UTZ CERTIFIED trained agronomist is a technical consultant specifically trained in assisting producers to comply with the UTZ CERTIFIED Code of Conduct. Trained agronomists can advise on practical implementation of elements of the Code and give directions on improvement of efficiency in farm management.


Coffee with an UTZ CERTIFIED certification has added value in the sense that it assures buyers that their coffee has been produced according to a baseline standard for responsible production, i.e. according to the UTZ CERTIFIED Code of Conduct. Buyers recognize this extra value by paying coffee growers a price premium for UTZ-certified coffee. An UTZ certification empowers coffee growers to negotiate a better price for their product. They have access to information about average prices and premiums for the all the coffees sold as UTZ CERTIFIED. Furthermore, twice a year a Supply & Demand Analysis is published, where the major trends from the past and the expectations for the future are presented. This publication is an important source of information both for producers and buyers.

The price for UTZ certified coffee is determined in the negotiation process between buyer and seller. UTZ CERTIFIED does not interfere in price negotiations.


UTZ certified coffee is traceable from producer to roaster. UTZ CERTIFIED uses two elements to create traceability:
  • The UTZ CERTIFIED web-based traceability system
  • Chain of Custody requirements

Web-based traceability system
When an UTZ certified producer sells his products (e.g. coffee, cocoa, tea) to a registered UTZ CERTIFIED buyer, the product is announced in the UTZ CERTIFIED web-based system. By doing so the seller announces when he is shipping what amount to whom. The buyer then gets notified and needs to confirm this in the traceability system. UTZ CERTIFIED assigns a unique tracking number to this lot. At the end of the supply chain, the end product manufacturer uses the unique tracking number to know his product credibly links to a certified source. Some brands use this unique tracking system to make the product traceable for their consumers.

Chain of Custody
To enhance the guarantee that a consumer product with an UTZ CERTIFIED logo does indeed credibly link to an UTZ certified producer, the UTZ CERTIFIED program contains Chain of Custody requirements. This is a set of chain-wide administrative, logistical and technical requirements for traceability. These requirements include criteria for separation of UTZ CERTIFIED products and conventional/non-UTZ CERTIFIED products, and keeping records of direct suppliers and buyers.

New Developments

Based on the experience of its first five years of operation, and encouraged by the successes, UTZ CERTIFIED uses is now using its expertise in both code development and traceability to contribute to the sustainability of other agricultural commodities. UTZ CERTIFIED now partners with / RSPO (Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil; since 2007) and with / BCI (Better Cotton Initiative) to implement the codes of these programs into their respective supply chains, with a strong focus on using the web-based traceability system of UTZ CERTIFIED.

Good Inside Cocoa Program

On 10 October 2007, during the celebration of the fifth anniversary of UTZ CERTIFIED, the Good Inside Cocoa Program was launched. UTZ CERTIFIED is working together with major stakeholders from industry, government and civil society to help achieve a more sustainable cocoa sector. UTZ CERTIFIED is cooperating with Ahold, Cargill, Heinz Benelux, Mars, Nestlé and ECOM to develop and implement a mainstream certification and traceability system for sustainable cocoa. Solidaridad and Oxfam Novib are supporting the initiative. Other companies and NGOs are invited to join and support the program.

Palm Oil

UTZ CERTIFIED has developed, implemented and is currently managing the traceability system for the Round Table for Sustainable Palm Oil
Palm oil
Palm oil, coconut oil and palm kernel oil are edible plant oils derived from the fruits of palm trees. Palm oil is extracted from the pulp of the fruit of the oil palm Elaeis guineensis; palm kernel oil is derived from the kernel of the oil palm and coconut oil is derived from the kernel of the...

. This system was launched in December 2008.


UTZ CERTIFIED has developed, implemented and is currently managing the traceability system for the Better Cotton Initiative. This system was launched in August 2010.


UTZ Certified certification, like the Rainforest Alliance
Rainforest Alliance
The Rainforest Alliance is a non-governmental organization with the published aims of working to conserve biodiversity and ensure sustainable livelihoods by transforming land-use practices, business practices and consumer behavior. It is based in New York City, and has offices throughout the...

 coffee certification program, has been called "Fairtrade
Fair trade coffee
Fair trade coffee is coffee which is purchased directly from the growers for a higher price than standard coffee. Fair trade coffee is one of many fair trade certified products available around the world. The purpose of fair trade is to promote healthier working conditions and greater economic...

 light" by critics, as it offers producers no minimum or guaranteed price for their crop. UTZ certified producer organizations are therefore highly vulnerable to the volatility of the coffee market. This major price difference makes the UTZ CERTIFIED label considerably cheaper than Fairtrade for companies such as Sara Lee interested in tapping the ethical market.

Michael Conroy, an independent consultant on certification for sustainable development, criticized UTZ CERTIFIED in his 2007 book Branded!: "the environmental standards of UTZ CERTIFIED are far weaker than those of either Fairtrade or Rainforest Alliance". UTZ CERTIFIED's standards for example, explicitly announces that genetically modified coffee plants, though not at present available, would be allowable so long as farmers obey local regulations on their use. Any kind of chemical fertilizer may be used as long as an external, technically qualified advisor has determined the quantity of fertilizer to be used. No chemical pesticides or fungicides banned in the European Union, the U.S. or Japan may be used, but any that are acceptable in those three markets are acceptable on coffee farms if they are applied "according to the label".

UTZ CERTIFIED has also been criticized with regard to its standards for remuneration of hired labor - it only requires that national laws must be followed. In addition, several observers have criticized the program for its lack of crop pre-financing and producer support.

External links


Code of Conduct
The 2006 UTZ CERTIFIED Code of Conduct refers to the following external documents and organizations: