The race to meet the EUDR deadline is intensifying, so what help is available?

Simply put, EUDR (EU Regulation on Deforestation) is an EU directive ensuring that all products on the EU market, and crossing into and out of the European Union, comply with EU deforestation regulation.

This regulation dictates that products containing any of the seven deforestation-risk commodities, including coffee, cocoa, palm oil and beef, must prove they do not originate from land deforested after 31 December 2020.

Companies must obtain certification to ensure their products comply with the regulation.

It’s important to note that, for small- and micro undertakings, this period is extended to 30 June 2025. Small undertakings are companies which have an average of 50 employees and net turnover of €8m, and micro undertakings have an average of 10 employees and net turnover of €700k.

Tackling the problem

Seven forest-risk commodities, as identified by the EU, caused 58% of the world’s agricultural deforestation between 2001 and 2015. These commodities are beef, soy, cocoa, coffee, rubber, palm oil and wood products.

The new regulation aims to:

  • Ensure products Europeans buy, use and consume do not contribute to deforestation and forest degradation in the EU and globally
  • Reduce carbon emissions caused by EU consumption and production of the relevant commodities by at least 32 million metric tonnes a year
  • Address all deforestation driven by agricultural expansion to produce the commodities in the scope of the regulation, as well as forest degradation

What help is available to food manufacturers to ensure they meet the deadline?

From 15 January 2024, Rainforest Alliance Certified coffee and cocoa farmers can opt-in to specific criteria that align with EUDR requirements, in the Rainforest Alliance certification platform. This will allow companies to source from participating farms, trace those ingredients through their supply chains, and leverage farm data by the regulation’s deadline to prove that they have a system in place to assess and mitigate deforestation risks in their supply chains, at no additional cost. This will help to ensure companies are able to successfully achieve full compliance in time for the December deadline.

Michelle Deugd, RA’s director of forests and agriculture commented, “As leaders in combating deforestation for more than 35 years, we are primed to leverage the full potential of our systems and offerings to help certified cocoa and coffee supply chain partners show compliance with EUDR requirements—and at no extra cost. Traceability is the backbone of Rainforest Alliance certification, and our system already offers complete traceability options. We have fast-tracked the alignment of our certification programme with the new regulations, including proprietary AI remote sensing data for mapping deforestation risks.

By December 30, 2024, all supply chain stakeholders—including producers, importers, manufacturers, brands, and retailers who source Rainforest Alliance Certified cocoa or coffee through Identity Preserved or Mixed Identity Preserved supply chains—will have the option to identify farm Certificate Holders who have selected the EUDR criteria in the RACP. Companies can choose to access the data (including precise geodata) of the farms they source from, to support compliance with their EUDR obligations.”

Additional resources are also available through the European Union’s site​.

Spokesperson, Thomas HAAHR, of the European Parliament added, “The Commission is working on guidelines to elaborate on some of the aspects of the regulation, notably on the definition of ‘agricultural use’, that will address issues related to agroforestry and agricultural land, certification, legality and on other aspects that are of interest to many stakeholders on the ground. These documents are planned to be published before the entry into application of the regulation.”

Tech companies are also working to streamline traceability​, implementing GPS, to make the move towards compliance easier for manufacturers.

Why reversing deforestation is so important

Forests and other biodiverse-rich landscapes such as grasslands, peatlands and wetlands, are an essential part of our ecosystem, providing oxygen, improving air quality by removing CO2, conserving water, preserving soil, and supporting wildlife. In short, humanity’s survival depends upon trees and plant life across the planet.

According to the UN FAO (United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization), it’s estimated the world has been cutting down 10mhectares of trees every year since 2010. The primary reasons for this being to make space to grow crops and rear livestock, as well as for the use of the trees themselves in the production of materials such as paper and furniture.

Forest loss contributes nearly five billion tons of CO2 into the earth’s atmosphere every year. This is equivalent to nearly 10% of all human emissions annually. NASA researchers found that accelerated slashing and burning methods of land clearing in Borneo, the third-largest island in the world and home to one of the oldest rainforests, contributed to the largest single-year global increase in carbon emissions in two millenniums.

What if the product was produced before the regulation entered into force?

If the product was produced prior to the deadline then it can be placed on the market and/or exported however, documentation must be provided to prove non-applicability of the regulation and its obligations.