Farmer Connect, whose CEO, Michael Chrisment, we interviewed, have struck a significant deal along with their partners UCC Coffee Benelux, The Colombian Coffee Growers Federation (FNC), Volcafe and Supremo N.V, and retail giant HEMA, to create the first coffee that can be traced back to the origin farm, using blockchain technology.
Farmer Connect uses sophisticated track & trace technology, leveraging IBM’s blockchain service, to create an entire audit all the way back to the farmer. Importantly, however, for the user, the company uses a technology that almost anyone with a smartphone can use.
The consumer just takes a photo of the code on the back of the coffee bag, and their phone will display in-depth information about the beans, the farmer, and even the route the beans took to arrive on the supermarket shelf.
Track & Trace, as it’s known, provides a platform that has the potential to change several aspects of the industry. The consumer is attracted by knowing more about the coffee they are drinking. In addition, feeling good about making their purchase has been demonstrated to be an important element of the consumer decision-making process.
UCC and HEMA have produced 2 new, fully traceable coffees using Farmer Connect’s blockchain technology which will be sold throughout all 800 HEMA stores.
The company issued a press release in which they said:
This is UCC Benelux and HEMA’s first-ever blockchain traced coffee. The collaboration between the two and farmer connect® is a powerful partnership that will help increase transparency, credibility, and fairness across the whole coffee supply chain. Ultimately, helping to build farm-to-consumer trust by providing detailed information about where the product has been sourced.
UCC Coffee Benelux has purchased, roasted, and packaged beans from coffee growers around the world to bring these products to market in HEMA’s 800 stores across Europe, Gulf Cooperation Council and Mexico. The Colombian coffee has been supplied by the FNC and Volcafe, and the Rwandan coffee by Supremo N.V – a subsidiary of ECOM Group. Retailers and consumers can trace these two coffees back to their origins using farmer connect®’s ‘Thank My Farmer’ app via the QR code.
This deal demonstrates yet more action from the industry to fix the current issue of scattered traceability data and will be a roadmap for other players on how to standardise and aggregate this vital information across different supply chains and partners.
Speaking on the alliance, Lian Enting, Lead Category Manager for Food at HEMA, says: “We took this step to work with UCC Coffee Benelux and farmer connect® to ensure our customers have access to products that allow them to always shop responsibly. So far, our work with farmer connect® has proven incredibly valuable and has been a strong indicator that consumers are shopping more mindfully. In fact, now 70% of our range is fully traceable.”
UCC Coffee Benelux’s Mark Duursma and Miguel Reguera, Blockchain project leaders, add: “We are incredibly excited to now be housed in such an influential retailer that is equally dedicated to everything we believe in. Our work so far with farmer connect® on Orang Utan Coffee has proven that this technology allows our consumers to track and trace the entire life cycle of our coffees and helps them make more mindful shopping decisions.”
Miguel adds: “UCC was the first ever coffee company to use farmer connect® in the UK, and we’re proud to see this roll out across our other regions and customers. Big thanks go to a combined team effort from The Colombian Coffee Growers Federation (FNC), Volcafe and Supremo N.V, who all collaborated to achieve this milestone for UCC and HEMA. We firmly believe that further change can happen if the coffee industry works together as a whole, to promote interaction at both ends of the supply chain – this has the potential to revolutionise not just the coffee industry, but the retail industry too”.
Volcafe Managing Director, Trishul Mandana has said “We are proud to play this pivotal role in providing global access to the world’s finest coffees,” and Berend Langelaar, Head of Trading at Volcafe Switzerland adds: “We’re excited to be a partner in this fully traceable project. The coffee world is moving towards enhanced value chain transparency and this joined-up project is a great step forward.”
“Through this program, HEMA, UCC, farmer connect® and the FNC are using technology to bring producers closer to consumers, not only to introduce them to the magnificent coffee landscapes of Colombia, but also to show them all the positive impact coffee has in our communities and our environment, improving farmers’ living conditions,” says Juan Camilo Ramos, FNC’s Chief Commercial Officer.
Thomas Delbar, Strategic Sourcing Manager at Supremo N.V, says: “Collaborating with farmer connect® to show full traceability of our Rwanda supply chain has been an eye-opening experience. The level of detail involved in registering all steps which coffee had to take and transformations it had to undergo to reach the final consumer, from farmgate to port and beyond that to Europe, was quite impressive. We certainly look forward to repeating this experience in the near future.”
Michael Chrisment, CEO of farmer connect®, comments: “This collaboration is an example to the industry that if we work together, we can tackle the issues in our supply chain to make systemic change. We are incredibly proud to facilitate this partnership and global collaboration and cannot wait to see the ecosystem of farmer connect® users continue to grow.”
Founded in 2019, farmer connect®’s mission is to “humanize consumption through technology.” Powered by IBM’s Food Trust, the farmer connect® blockchain allows retailers and consumers to trace coffee back to its different origins by simply scanning a QR code on the packaging, and seeing the full lifecycle through its ‘Thank My Farmer’ app.
The new coffees have their own incredibly unique stories to tell. Using the farmer connect® app, consumers will discover the journey of every bean:
- Rwanda Single Origin Beans (click here)
The Rwandese cooperative which produced this exquisite coffee was founded in 2014 and is made of 368 farmers, who have joined forces to become Fairtrade and Rainforest certified. They grow mostly Bourbon varieties on their farms at altitudes between 1400 and 1800 masl.
Thomas Delbar, Strategic Sourcing Manager at Supremo N.V adds: “The farmers work together to produce high quality coffee in a way that respects the environment and decide jointly how premiums generated by their coffee sales are to be used for the benefit of the community. The cooperative has a high proportion of women members, who hold a strong role in promoting gender balance within their community.”
- Colombia Single Origin Beans (click here)
This Rainforest Alliance coffee from Antioquia, Colombia, is the perfect combination between high coffee quality and environmental and social sustainability. The sensory attributes of this coffee are: pleasant aroma, balanced cup and elegant fruity notes.
Juan Camilo Ramos, FNC CCO, adds: “This Rainforest-certified coffee from Antioquia was grown by hard-working farmers and carefully handpicked in the perfect degree of ripeness to assure the best flavour for Colombian coffee consumers.”
About farmer connect®
Founded in 2019 and headquartered in Switzerland, farmer connect® is a global industry-led company with the vision to humanize consumption through technology. Its cutting-edge software promotes fair, sustainable and traceable agriculture, enabling an inclusive and efficient supply chain from farmers to consumers. Built on emerging technologies, such as blockchain, self-sovereign identity, and artificial intelligence, the agritech ecosystem allows safe and private business data storage and sharing, as well as the exchange and tracking of information and payments. The initiative is supported by industry leaders who recognize digitalization, transparency, and sustainability as powerful trends in the agriculture sector. At this stage, farmer connect® is focused on coffee and cocoa, with ambitions to cover other agricultural commodities in the near future.
About farmer connect® products
farmer connect® is built around three main products: farmer id, the connect hub and the Thank My FarmerTM app. From the producers to the consumers, trustworthiness and identification are at the core of each solution, transforming the consumer journey and thereby driving business results such as engagement and product consideration.
- farmer id is a solution based on Self-Sovereign Identity (SSI), that allows farmers to connect digitally to the agriculture supply chain to get proof of their income, safely store and manage digital versions of transaction receipts or certifications, all in one place. One aim is to support farmers’ access to financing and investments and therefore improve their living conditions, as well as ensuring traceability of products.
- connect hub brings together data from across the supply chain, storing it safely and allowing controlled access so that key data points can be validated and processed. Built around a blockchain core, powered by IBM, it ensures the traceability, safe storage and validation by all parties involved in data traveling through the supply chain. Partners can upload information through forms and spreadsheet templates, as well as full system integration through Application Programming Interfaces (API). It can also automate specific tasks, through reporting (e.g. sustainability reports) and smart contracts.
- Thank My FarmerTM is a web-based app that allows consumers to trace the origins and quality of a product. It also lets consumers learn about the farmer, with the opportunity to engage directly with local farmer communities by learning about and donating towards programs that support the sustainability and local prosperity of origin farms. This happens in a secure tech environment, with confirmation that donations have reached their intended destination.
Ever since 1926, HEMA has been making daily life better, easier and more fun for its customers. With products and services that stand out because of their sustainable quality, optimistic design and good prices. HEMA has over 32,000 own brand products and services, close to 800 stores in 13 countries on 3 continents, and over 19,000 employees. HEMA revised its strategy at the beginning of 2019. In the coming years, HEMA will focus on growth via partners, its own online channels and those of other companies, international master franchise partners and wholesale activities. As a result, HEMA is increasingly becoming a brand rather than just a retailer.
About UCC Coffee Europe
UCC Europe was formed following the 2012 acquisition of United Coffee by UCC Holdings Ltd. The Japanese independent coffee company is the fifth largest coffee roaster globally, responsible for over £2bn annual sales.
UCC Coffee Europe is headquartered in London and includes local business structures across three distinct regions North (UK, Ireland, BENELUX, Austria, Eastern Europe, and Nordics), Central (Switzerland and Germany) and South (Spain, Portugal, Italy, and France). Its export business supplies major markets in Asia, Africa, Latin America, and the Middle East.
UCC Europe employs 1,500 people and operates 10 manufacturing sites including its roastery in Dartford, Kent and Centre of Excellence in Valence, France – one of Europe’s largest producer of Nespresso®-compatible capsules. It offers a total coffee solution to out of home and retail customers. It works across the entire value chain from seed to sip, delivering high-quality products and services at scale, consistently.
About the Colombian Coffee Growers Federation (FNC)
In 1927 the Colombian coffee growers organized themselves to create an institution that would represent them both nationally and internationally, defend their rights and seek ways to improve their quality of life. The Colombian Coffee Growers Federation (FNC) is a non-profit and politically independent organization. As the foremost coffee association in Colombia, FNC is present in every rural region where coffee is grown. Its work revolves around 540 thousand coffee growers and their families ensuring Colombian Coffee is grown in a sustainable manner, strengthening common interests within coffee growing communities while positioning Colombian Coffee as the best coffee in the world. The FNC advocates for economic sustainability and believes it represents the most important pillar of sustainability. The FNC sees farmer connect® as a platform that has the potential to generate more transparency and traceability along the supply chain and help promote remunerative prices for coffee producers.
For more information, please visit: http://www.cafedecolombia.com
About Supremo N.V
Supremo NV was incorporated in 1989 in Bruges, heart of Flemish and European trade in the 16th century.
Since then, Supremo has been developing mutually beneficial coffee partnerships worldwide with both green coffee exporters of the World and coffee roasters in Europe continuously focusing and creating value in the supply chain. In 2013, Supremo integrates a worldwide coffee merchant network (the ECOM Group, founded in 1847), thus expanding its access to critical knowledge, market information, and sourcing infrastructure. Supremo more than anything takes this opportunity to invest beyond exporters and build partnership with farmer communities. Supremo prides itself in accompanying the evolutions of the coffee industry, by going further in-depth with Responsible Sourcing.
About Volcafe Ltd.
Established in 1857, Volcafe is one of the world’s largest coffee merchants, providing beans for over 80 million cups a year. We pride ourselves on our quality and range, sourcing from small farms selling a few kilos of coffee cherries in Papua New Guinea to large plantations in Brazil dealing in hundreds of tonnes of export-ready product. Our reputation has been built on great client relationships based on service, quality, reliability and sustainability, and we continually aspire to be ‘the world’s best sustainable coffee partner’. We play our part in sustainable coffee through our in-house programme, Volcafe Way, through which over 250 Volcafe agronomists in ten origins help achieve our goal of farmer economic sustainability.