Voluntary Sustainability Standards: Growth continues

Palm seeds © Bremen Yong for Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil

The latest market data on Voluntary Sustainability Standards (VSS) is presented in ‘The State of Sustainable Markets 2017’ report. The market research shows a clear trend: the production volume and number of certified products from almost all standards have increased over the past five years.

The new report ‘State of Sustainable Markets 2017: Statistics and Emerging Trends’, covering 14 sustainability standards, shows continued growth across all products and all standards.

The report presents data that helps small firms take advantage of trends to supply consumers with products that are environmentally sustainable and socially responsible.

The share of standard compliant area reached double digits in 2015 with more than 25 per cent of land used for coffee production, 16 per cent of land used for cocoa production, 15 per cent of land used for oil palm production, and 14 per cent of land used for tea production meeting the criteria of sustainability standards.

The cotton standard compliant area nearly quadrupled between 2011 and 2015, while the banana compliant area almost tripled, and the tea compliant area more than doubled in the same timeframe. The soy and cotton compliant area both grew by close to 50 per cent between 2014 and 2015.

In 2015, more than 50.9 million hectares were certified organic, representing 1.1 per cent of the global agricultural land. The single-commodity Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) certified almost 3.5 million hectares, making it the standard with the second-largest area, representing 0.07 per cent of the global agricultural area. GLOBALG.A.P. had more than 3.1 million hectares.

Most of the standards experienced significant growth between 2011 and 2015. Better Cotton Initiative (BCI) standard compliant area expanded almost ninefold between 2011 and 2015, to 2.2 million hectares. The area used to cultivate Round Table for Responsible Soy (RTRS) soy increased fivefold and is now at 0.7 million hectares. The certified area of Cotton Made in Africa (CmiA) and the Roundtable for Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) tripled between 2011 and 2015. The Global Coffee Platform (formerly 4C) (1.6 million hectares) and UTZ (2.1 million hectares) also experienced a significant growth of their certified area in the same timeframe.

The ‘State of Sustainable Markets 2017: Statistics and Emerging Trends’ is the second joint report between the Research Institute of Organic Agriculture (FiBL), the International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD), and the International Trade Centre (ITC).

The report offers a comprehensive snapshot of the market performance of global sustainability standards operating in eight products: bananas, cocoa, coffee, cotton, palm oil, soybeans, cane sugar, and tea. The report also covers forestry.

The report and the global market survey on Voluntary Sustainability Standards (VSS) are funded by the Swiss State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO).

The report covers the following standards: 4C, Better Cotton Initiative, Bonsucro, Cotton Made in Africa, Fairtrade International, Forest Stewardship Council, GLOBALG.A.P., IFOAM – Organics International, the Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification Schemes, ProTerra Foundation, Rainforest Alliance/Sustainable Agriculture Network, the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil, the Round Table on Responsible Soy, and UTZ.

Posted on 10/07/2017