Sustainable Food Group Sustainability StandardTM
Frequently Asked Questions

How is this standard and certification different from other programs?

The Sustainability Standard was designed to address a comprehensive set of environmental, social and quality best practices for agricultural producers, packers and processors. Self-assessment and certification to the Standard evaluates the extent to which a product has been produced in a sustainable way from planting to distribution. Audits may also be combined with food safety audits, with potential to save participants time and money.

What are the benefits of participation?

Self-assessment helps identify opportunities for continuous improvement. Certification to the Standard documents your operation’s high performance, providing evidence you can present to buyers, shareholders, employees and the community.

How can I participate as a producer, packer or processor?

Click here to find an approved certification body and submit an application. Once your application is received and approved, the certification body will schedule an audit.

Are there opportunities for facilities (packers, processors) to become certified?

Yes, facility operations can pursue certification for their facility (individual certification) or their facility and suppliers (group certification). Facilities with internal or quality management systems that set standards for their suppliers can apply for group certification, which certifies that the facility(ies) as well as their suppliers meet the Sustainability Standard. Group certification demonstrates to buyers and potential buyers that your products are grown, sourced and processed sustainably.

As a certification body, what do I do next if this opportunity interests me?

If you are interested in offering audits to the Sustainability Standard, please complete a certification body application here and send to Once your application is received and approved, we will schedule a training to get your auditors ready to conduct competent audits.

How many buyers recognize certification to this Standard?

The Sustainability Standard is recognized by both Walmart and Sysco. Walmart is accepting the Sustainability Standard as a part of their new policy requiring fresh produce suppliers to have a third-party verified IPM certification. Sysco is currently piloting the Sustainability Standard with select growers in their fresh produce supply chain.

How long does it take to become certified?

Certification will typically take a maximum of 45 days after a successful audit.

How long is the certification period?

Certification is valid for 36 months. The due date for the subsequent audit will be 36 months from the date of the previous audit and not from the previous certificate issue date. In years one and two, the certification body will conduct a document review to confirm continued conformance with minimum requirements and other key questions. A lapse in certification requires the supplier to restart the process with a certification audit, incurring additional costs and time commitment, compared to a renewal audit.

What is a certification body?

A certification body, also sometimes referred to as an auditing services company, is a provider of certification services to auditees.