Regenerative agriculture has been an increasingly popular sustainability topic over the past few years. Now certifications are slowly establishing themselves to go along with it. Amongst these is the Regenerative Organic Certification.
This relatively new certification goes beyond most certifications’ standards and is especially suited for brands that have been unsatisfied with other certifications’ efforts.
The following article will explore how to receive the Regenerative Organic Certification (ROC) so you can decide if it’s a good fit for you and your business.
Before we dive into the details let’s look at the history of the ROC organisation. It’ll be important to know that we can trust the quality of the certification and, if you’re going to invest time and money, that it will be around and valuable for decades to come.
About the Regenerative Organic Certification
“Regenerative Agriculture” describes farming and grazing practices that, among other benefits, reverse climate change by rebuilding soil organic matter and restoring degraded soil biodiversity – resulting in both carbon drawdown and improved water cycles. This video is a great introduction into the topic.
Regenerative Organic Certified was established in 2017 by a group of farmers, business leaders, and experts in soil health, animal welfare, and social fairness collectively called the Regenerative Organic Alliance, or ROA. On their board you can find sustainable business leaders like Patagonia & Dr. Bronner.
The certification claims to be a revolutionary new certification for food, textiles and personal care ingredients. Certified farms and products meet the highest standards in the world for soil health, animal welfare and farmworker fairness.
We exist to heal a broken system, repair a damaged planet, and empower farmers and eaters to create a better future through regenerative organic farming. By adopting regenerative organic practices on more farms around the world, we can create long-term solutions to the climate crisis, factory farming, and fractured rural economies.Regenerative Organic Alliance
The requirement framework of Regenerative Organic Certifications is based on three pillars: Soil Health, Animal Welfare and Social Fairness in which the highest possible standards are aimed for (see graphic).
In 2019 the young organisation conducted a pilot program with 19 brands and farms, producing various crops and products all over the world. Some of the participants and their products include:
- Apricot Lane Farms: Avocado oil from Apricot Lane Farms in Moorpark, CA
- Dr. Bronner’s: Virgin Coconut Oil from Serendipol Ltd. in Sri Lanka
- Lotus Foods: Brown and White Basmati Rice from Rohini, India
- Nature’s Path: Oats from Legend Organic farm in Saskatchewan
- Patagonia Provisions: Regenerative Organic Chile Mango from Sol Simple, Masaya, Nicaragua
How the Regenerative Organic Certification Process Works in Detail
The basic requirement for all farmers and producers is to have a USDA organic certification or a recognised equivalent in a non-US country. All Regenerative Organic requirements build on that certification.
There are three levels of the Regenerative Organic certification – Bronze, Silver and Gold – enabling producers to adjust and adapt their practices over time and continually improve while already profiting from being certified.
- Bronze: At least 10% of fibre-or food-producing land within an operation must be certified at initial certification and must reach at least 50% by year five. Alternatively, the certified portion may represent at least 10% of the operation’s revenue derived from food or fibre production.
- Silver: At least 50% of fibre-or food-producing land, or revenue from ROC crops, within an operation must be certified at initial certification and must reach at least 75% by year five. Alternatively, the certified portion may represent at least 50% of the operation’s revenue derived from food or fibre production.
- Gold: 100% of fibre-or food-producing land of an operation must be certified, representing 100% of revenue derived from food or fibre production.
You can dive deeper into the requirements of each pillar for the respective level HERE.
Once you know which level applies you may start the application process. If you’re a producer and are already USDA organic certified, you may start the online application process.
If you’re a brand that would like to sell certified products you can obtain a license. If you already source certified ingredients, the process is simple – download the license agreement and attachments, fill them out and submit them via email to Anna@RegenOrganic.org.
Better World Products’ Certification Framework applied to the Regenerative Organic Certification
In this article we have outlined why it’s so important to put effort into selecting the right sustainability certification. With the FSC promotional license your main challenge will be to change your suppliers which can be a costly and lengthy process. It will directly influence your products’ quality.
Have a look at the Better World Products certification framework to help you see if the Regenerative Organic Certification or license is the right one for you.
Fees & Involvement
Since the Regenerative Organic Certification is still relatively new and requires an extensive set of met requirements from farmers it might be challenging to find enough suppliers that meet your product’s demands. The organisation currently recommends working with your current supplier on getting them ROC certified since the existing network of suppliers is still very small. In any case the required research will be quite extensive, and the produce is likely to have a higher price point than regular organic certified one.
For the license a licensing fee framework will be applied with the specific fees depending on the type of product and area of the world you’re sourcing from. Generally, you will have to pay a fee of 0.2% of the Gross Regenerative Organic Product Value (GROPV) – product value minus the cost of the raw material.
Example: Pumpkin Preserves is a brand that sells pumpkin jams, pumpkin butters, and pumpkin purees. They source all their product from Big Horn Gourds Farm, a Regenerative Organic Certified™ Bronze farm based in Mexico.
Big Horn Gourds Farm sold their entire crop to Pumpkin Preserves for $150,000. Therefore, the Gross Regenerative Organic Crop Value = $150,000.
Since Big Horn Gourds falls below the minimum, they will pay a flat-rate Annual Fee of $200.00.
Next season, if their GROCV increases to $250,000, their annual fee will increase to $225.00.
Pumpkin Preserves’ overall sales or GROPV of ROC Pumpkin Preserves is $600,000 and they paid $150,000 to Big Horn Gourds. Therefore, their annual ROC License fee base will be $450,000 ($600,000 minus $150,000). According to the fee chart, their ROC License Fee will be $850.
The time needed to review your licensing application depends on the number of products you seek licensing for. Most likely it will take a few weeks.
For filling out the application you will only need a few hours (depending on the number of products as well).
The certification for farms takes about 3 to 6 months.
Certification Popularity & Trend
The Regenerative Agriculture Certification is still relatively new and unknown in the certification world, as is the term Regenerative Agriculture. On Amazon US you can only find 2 certified products, indicating that this certification is still in its baby shoes.
A lot of bigger certifications are facing continuous backlash because of requirements that are too lax and a general turn to more holistic sustainable practices. Therefore Regenerative Agriculture and possibly with it its certifications might be in for a significant rise in popularity over the next few years.
The Regenerative Organic certification is a product certification and applies to the following product categories:
- Personal Care
The Regenerative Organic certification focuses on restoring ecosystems affected by agricultural usage towards truly sustainable farming practices. They go beyond what most sustainability certifications require and have most likely the ecologically most advanced framework of all of Amazon’s Climate Pledge Friendly partners.
Getting the Regenerative Organic certification and license provides these direct and indirect benefits to your brand:
- Signalling you deeply care about sustainability and restoring our ecosystems beyond the minimal necessary effort.
- Eligibility for Amazon’s Climate Pledge Friendly program.
Target Audience Fit
Since the Regenerative Organic Certification body was founded in the US, its popularity is likely to increase there first.
Because of its rigorous requirements the certification might be especially appealing to an environmentally highly aware and educated target audiences that view the bigger and more mainstream certifications with a critical eye.
The Regenerative Organic Alliance was founded in 2017 which brings the certification age to 4 years. It makes it one of the newest sustainability certifications.
Fit to Current State of Product
If your current product does not source Regenerative Organic certified ingredients you have to undergo the process of changing your suppliers. That might lead to changes in quality, reliability, prices, etc. If a supplier loses their certification for some reason that also means you have to change suppliers yet again.
The Regenerative Organic certification is one of the youngest sustainability certifications. It is a great option for your brand to show you deeply care about sustainability and are not afraid to put in the extra effort to meet even more requirements than most certifications ask for. It may come with a higher amount of involvement and only be rewarded by a specific target audience but that might change soon.
In this article we have explored
- What is the Regenerative Agriculture certification, who is behind it and what are the details?
- What does the process of obtaining the certification or license look like?
- What does the Better World Product certification framework applied to the Regenerative Organic certification look like?
Hopefully this article brings you one step closer to choosing the right sustainability certification. If you have further questions about the Regenerative Organic certification, you can contact them HERE.
Are you wondering if you make the most out of your Amazon sales? Feel free to reach out to us HERE.