OFI and Melitta Europa have issued a press release around a pilot plan to make their coffee traceable from the roaster to the farm which produced the coffee. The company uses a blockchain system supported by digital tools to provide an end to end experience.

Interestingly this is the first coffee project I know of using SAP’s material traceability system. SAP is a German Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) software that large businesses deploy to link disparate parts of the business together, for example, manufacturing to finance and operations. As Melitta is also a German company, this perhaps is not a surprising choice.

Typically, the material traceability platform from SAP is used by engineering companies who want to get visibility into the details of their supply chain, which can assist them with events like product recalls.

But the platform was also built with the food industry in mind and offers detailed analytics and a kind of genealogy map to visualise the journey. Please note that the diagram was not taken to represent Melitta’s system and may not represent how they have configured it.

Geneology example taken from SAP’s material traceabilty blog post

As SAP themselves point out in a blog post, the system is dependent on good data going in, so there is still a requirement for good practices on the ground.

However, such initiatives are welcome because they bring consumers and farmers closer together. The ofi and Melitta collaboration will enable consumers to scan a QR code and learn about the product through a rich visual experience. This is a key point that I think will become the norm in the near future, with the potential to build a connection between consumers and farmers.

Press Release

An innovative coffee pilot project with selected speciality coffees between ofi (olam food ingredients) and Melitta Europa GmbH & Co. KG – Coffee Division – combines the capabilities of blockchain with other digital tools to meet growing consumer demand for coffee that not only stands out for its aroma and taste but is also traceable – from farm to roaster.

Consumers are increasingly interested in where their ingredients come from, but traceability is notoriously challenging in coffee supply chains because of their fragmented nature. The beans are sourced from smallholder farmers scattered across remote areas and often change hands multiple times before reaching the roaster.

Florian Schmidt, general manager, coffee at ofi

“This is why we’re innovating with our customers to deepen our digital presence on the ground to improve traceability. This benefits both farmers and coffee lovers, who are becoming increasingly quality-oriented and experience-driven”, Schmidt continues.

At the farm level, ofi sources high-quality lots via its proprietary smartphone app from smallholder farmers located in the south-central region of Guatemala. It allows farmers to negotiate and transact with ofi directly. Each transaction is tagged with the farm location and date and provides the source data for Melitta’s SAP material traceability tool using blockchain technology.

The sustainability insights platform AtSource adds a layer of transparency for customers. The social and environmental footprint of a coffee purchase can be measured across 100+ metrics, at various stages of the supply chain journey – at farmer group level, through processing and logistics, up to the roaster.

Jörg Lehmann, head of green coffee management/logistics at Melitta: “Using SAP´s material traceability technology together with ofi’s digital tools and Scantrust’s Connected Packaging Platform and QR Codes, we can take consumers on a virtual journey from our manufacturer in Bremen, Germany, all the way back to the farms in the Guatemala highlands where their arabica beans were grown. For these three selected coffees from Guatemala, they can access videos of the farmer explaining everything that goes into producing these quality beans. They can learn about the specific processing method used and how it shapes the desired aroma and flavor. We’re connecting the people who drink our coffee with the people that grow it.”

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