Generic Labor Conditions Question 1

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Concerning tropical products:
Does the brand (company) purchase [ingredients] from sources (plantations) that are certified to e.g. have no child labor and no forced labor, and provide a better living standard for the farmers and workers who produce the [ingredients]?
NL: Koopt het merk (bedrijf) [ingredienten] afkomstig van plantages die zijn gecertificeerd voor bijvoorbeeld het verbod op kinderarbeid en gedwongen arbeid, en het bieden van een betere levensstandaard voor de boeren en arbeiders die de [ingredienten] produceren?
DE: Bezieht die Marke/das Unternehmen CHECK von zertifizierten Plantagen, auf denen bspw. keine Kinder sowie Menschen unter Zwang arbeiten und den Farmern und Arbeitern, die den [CHECK] produzieren, ein fairer Lebensstandard ermöglicht wird?


Regarding sustainability of tropical commodities such as coffee, cocoa, tea, banana, pineapple and tropical fruits, the NGO Fairfood previously indicated various ‘priority issues’ for environment and social conditions (source taken offline). Problems are the overuse of pesticides and even more, the deprived labour and working conditions of smallholder farmers in developing countries.

To address these issues, there are several certification schemes active in the market. The former Tropical Commodities Coalition (TCC), where several Dutch NGO's were represented, has compared these certification schemes that aim to improve the environmental and social conditions of coffee farmers from mainly developing countries.

Where Fair Trade has commonly been considered as the highest standard, rural development experts and scientists criticize the Fair Trade movement and advocate for the other standards like UTZ and Rainforest Alliance and even company standards like Nespresso AAA and Café by Starbucks.

After consulting experts from the Tropical Commodities Coalition, we have concluded that we may assume that all the active certification systems have their specific benefits or positive side effects for the environment and farmers, and it has clearly not been proven that one system benefits coffee farmers more than others systems. Additionally, all standard embody a public promise of more sustainable production, and can publicly be held accountable for this. Therefore, all the standards as mentioned by TCC are eligible to contribute to the 100% (practically for this question say at least 98%) ‘responsible’ certified tropical commodities.

For this question any amount or percentage of [ingredients] from socially certified sources is sufficient for a yes, because some brands do purchase [ingredients] from certified sources, this first step deserves acknowledgement which we give through this question. But many brands are not yet clear about the percentages, while we need this transparency to compare brands. Therefore we ask the following questions to evaluate the percentages that brands are involved in buying from certified sources.

Ranking Guidelines

A ‘Yes’ is applicable when

  • At least a part of the purchased [ingredients] is bought from socially certified sources. The following sources are approved: Fairtrade, Rainforest Alliance, Utz Certified. Please contact the verifier of Rank a Brand when companies refer to other systems.
  • The brand is not a member of a certification initiative such as Fairtrade, but has its own program on sustainable [ingredient] production, and already purchases a percentage of its [ingredients] from this program. Please note that this own program needs independent review to be accepted and eligible to answer this question with a 'yes'.

A ‘No’ is applicable when

  • The brand specifically states that it does not buy [ingredients] from socially certified sources.

A ‘?’ is applicable when

  • The brand does not specify whether its purchased products are bought at socially certified sources.
  • The brand does not specify the certification standard of the purchased products.

Answering Guidelines

Answer ‘yes’
- [brand/company] purchases [ingredients] from an socially certified source, namely: [name of certification and for which product]
- [brand/company] does not purchase its [ingredients] from an independent socially certification standard, but carries out its own program which is equally as good, namely [insert name program and product].

Answer ‘no’
- [brand/company] specifically states not to buy [ingredients] from socially certified sources.

Answer ‘?’
- [brand/company] does not specify on its website if its [ingredients] comes from an socially certified source. Sustainability information should be easily accessible for consumers to make responsible choices.
- [brand/company] claims to purchase [ingredients] from socially certified sources but does not specify the source or certification standard.