Stating up front that you're going to allow 90% purity to leave the farm and allow that to be considered 100% can only work against you in the long run. If you're expecting 10% "leakage", then you may well get that much leakage on your 90% rule--and perhaps even more, given that those at origin know you're not expecting 100%. It simply puts you in a difficult position from the start....In discussing this issue with many people, I've found that those who are concerned about environmental and/or social issues and look for such seals expect nothing short of 100% purity.
First of all, coffees that are sold throughout the supply chain beginning at the farm level are 100% Rainforest Alliance Certified and there is no allowance for coffees traveling from farms to exporters to importers and to roasters to be less than 100%.
The 90% labeling threshold is based upon the fact that many large roasters do not batch roast, but rather roast with a continuous flow of coffee throughout the factory. The labeling requirements ensure that the 100% coffee equivalent is purchased, but allows such companies to use their funds to invest in certification, farmers and the environment rather than in separate roasting facilities.
Farmer A brings in 1 ton of FT cocoa or sugar. The mill won't process less than 4 tons at a time. It is entirely acceptable for the mill to add Farmer B's 3 tons of non-FT cocoa/sugar to the 1 ton of FT cocoa in order to justify turning on the machines and process the cocoa/sugar
The resulting pile is just under <4 tons of processed cocoa/sugar. It is legitimate under current FT policy to sell 1 ton of this as FT, even though it has been blended with 75% non-FT cocoa/sugar. The balance may not carry the label.
Alex Morgan wrote:
The 90% labeling threshold is based upon the fact that many large roasters do not batch roast, but rather roast with a continuous flow of coffee throughout the factory.
Secondly, the 90% labeling threshold is based on an assumption of a 100% bean equivalent. For instance if roaster X would like to sell 100 lbs. of Rainforest Alliance Certified™ roasted coffee, then roaster X must purchase the green equivalent to 100% certified roasted coffee (due to the roasting, the weight of 100 lbs of green coffee will actually decrease as roasted coffee).
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