4C Certification · Food Security

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4C Food Security Add-On

Strengthening Food Security with 4C

According to the United Nations, food security is “hav[ing] physical, social, and economic access to sufficient, safe, and nutritious food that meets [a person’s] food preferences and dietary needs for an active and healthy life.” About 690 million people globally are undernourished. Producers belong to the especially vulnerable part of the global value chain, particularly in times of crisis.

The Food Security Standard (FSS) was established by the WWF,  Welthungerhilfe, and ZEF (Center for Development Research) with support of the German Federal Minis try of Food and Agriculture. It focuses on the Human Right to Adequate Food and addresses the four pillars of food security: availability, access, utilization, and stability.

FSS provides a set of practical and measurable criteria and audit tools.

FSS and 4C united their forces to develop a voluntary extension of the 4C core requirements, in accordance with the principles, criteria and indicators of FSS, a so-called 4C Food Security Add-On.

Thanks to intensive and constructive cooperation between FSS and 4C, the checklist for the 4C Food Security add-on is now recognized by FSS. Through promoting and implementing this add-on, 4C is determined to strengthen food security on a global scale. 4C is also the only coffee certification that has integrated FSS so far.

By adopting the FSS, companies along the value chain can demonstrate outstanding human rights due diligence and high commitment to the Human Right to Adequate Food and the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

“Food security requires a joint action of everyone involved in the coffee sector. Coffee-importing companies can trigger and support this action, if they request integrating the FSS into sustainability audits and support its implementation. This way, companies show sensitivity for local challenges and promote a deeper understanding of the food security situation in the region. Gaps and areas for improvement can be identified and a continuous improvement initiated via certification,” – Dr. Rafaël Schneider, Coordinator of the FSS Project and Deputy Director Policy Department at Deutsche Welthungerhilfe e. V., Bonn, Germany and 4C Board Member.


Applying for the 4C Food Security Add-On

Main conditions

  • A valid 4C certificate or the willingness to obtain one to guarantee compliance with 4C core sustainability criteria, and
  • Desire to strengthen food security through a credible third-party certification


The 4C Food Security Add-On presents a deeper integration of the food security topic into the 4C certification system. Once a Managing Entity of a 4C Unit* submits an application to participate in this voluntary extension of the 4C certification, it will become a part of the 4C Unit’s regular established certification and audit procedures, including onsite audits, annual updates, and improvement plans. To learn more, please follow the link.

To download and get familiar with the 4C Food Security audit checklist, please refer to the document library here.

*In 4C terminology, 4C Units are 4C certified coffee-producing groups managed by Managing Entities. For complete definitions, please consult our glossary here.


Contact us

To start your journey towards more food secure coffee production, please contact us via info@4c-services.org.

Further Information: Downloads and Links