Evaluation of UTZ certification coffee businesses in Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua
Over the past two decades, voluntary certification systems (VCSs) and private certification systems (PCSs) have expanded in developing countries. In agriculture, these certification systems seek to incentivize and verify actions by producers, processors and traders in accordance with established parameters. They provide a framework to inform and guide the decisions of stakeholders in coffee value chains, including farmers, processors and downstream roasters and retailers. In doing so, certification systems provide a critical link with consumers interested in specific product attributes. Coffee value chains have led the way for value chains where certification systems have been widely employed for the production and marketing of agricultural products. In terms of market size, nearly a quarter of coffee production meets one or more VCS or PCS. In 2015, five key coffee certification standards (C.A.F.E. Practices, Fairtrade International, organic, Rainforest Alliance and UTZ) each had from 2.6 million hectares to 4.6 million hectares certified. Researchers have focused much attention on the role of certification systems in coffee value chains, with most of the discussion on smallholders and the benefits they derive from their participation in these systems. Yet, limited insights have emerged on the needs, perceptions and strategies of coffee businesses in developing countries. These businesses play a critical role in deciding which certification systems are adopted, supporting farmers to make the required changes in production systems and engaging with downstream buyers and others for support in system implementation.