GENEVA, SWITZERLAND, September 18, 2019 — A group of leading companies from the global coffee supply chain announced a collaboration with Farmer Connect – a tech startup building farm-to-consumer traceability solutions for enterprises based on the IBM Food Trust Platform. Farmer Connect aims to create efficiencies in the supply chain while connecting consumers to the farmers who grow the products they enjoy.
The major partners of the platform’s initial phase include the Colombian Coffee Growers Federation (FNC), ITOCHU Corporation, The J.M. Smucker Company, JACOBS DOUWE EGBERTS (JDE), RGC Coffee, Beyers Koffie, and Sucafina. This diverse group of actors will work together to further build out an intelligent ecosystem for the coffee supply chain. The platform will be available to the entire coffee community and expansion into other commodities starting in 2020.
The coffee supply chain is complex, from planting and growing the trees to harvesting, hulling, drying, packing, bulking, blending and finally roasting beans before they are ready to be brewed. Integrated into this process are several intermediaries including export sellers, international transporters, importers, roasters, and retailers such as grocery stores, cafes and specialty shops. These intermediaries all have their disparate ways of tracking information, which can make value and information exchanges across the supply chain more manual, more labor-intensive and less transparent than they could be.
Blockchain is ideally suited to help address these challenges because it establishes an immutable, transparent environment for transactions. Growers, logistics providers, traders, brand owners, retailers, regulators, and consumers can use Farmer Connect’s platform to share permissioned access to information. This can enable coffee members of the ecosystem to trace products to their source and share sales and customer feedback with the growers.
“Global coffee prices recently hit the lowest price in over a decade, and many farmers are being forced to exit the industry entirely by turning to new crops or migrating. If this trend continues, it will severely impact the broader supply chain, and it will likely be consumers who ultimately shoulder the burden of higher retail prices or a reduced number of coffee producing countries,” said Dave Behrends, Founder and President of Farmer Connect SA. “Blockchain technology, combined with digital identity and the ability to support sustainable projects across borders, is poised to bring radical transparency, efficiency, and data-driven sustainability metrics that have the possibility to birth a new, more equitable economic model in one of the world’s most vital commodity markets,” he added.
With the Farmer Connect enterprise solution, coffee that travels across the supply chain can be tracked and traced in near real-time, across every transaction, all the way to the consumer. The solution recently completed months of testing, tracing coffee originating in Colombia and Rwanda from production to delivery. The provenance of each bag of exported coffee was captured in detail.
Farmer Connect SA has worked with IBM to develop an application named “Thank My Farmer” that gives consumers a full description of the coffee they are drinking and pulls data from the blockchain to highlight the journey that the coffee has taken through an interactive map. The app also allows consumers to learn about, share, contribute to and follow sustainability projects that are linked to their coffee or by region, variety, or brand. “We believe that Farmer Connect will be the platform of choice for the coffee industry. Through the innovative approach to supporting all stakeholders in the industry ecosystem, we know that both farmers and coffee lovers everywhere will benefit from transparent connectivity,” said Rajendra Rao, General Manager for IBM Food Trust.
“Our participation in the Farmer Connect blockchain initiative demonstrates our commitment to providing consumers with the transparency they crave while also creating new ways to support smallholder coffee farmers,” said Joe Stanziano, Senior Vice President and General Manager for The J.M. Smucker Company. “We’re excited to pair our coffee expertise with the other great companies working on this initiative to ensure Farmer Connect is a success for everyone involved.”
“Farmer Connect complements JDE’s coffee supplier engagement program Common Grounds, by enabling consumers to reward the farmers who provide the coffee they love. We are excited to join this pilot and determined to better connect coffee consumers and coffee farmers,” said Nadia Hoarau-Mwaura, Sustainability Director, JDE.
The first version of the “Thank My Farmer” app will be available to test users in select markets of The J.M. Smucker Company, JDE, and other partners before opening up for general availability in 2020. Farmer Connect is developing a farmer-owned decentralized digital identity with Streetcred ID based on the Sovrin Network that will allow tracing to the individual farmer and the ability to use a feature within the “Thank My Farmer” app to contribute directly to their favorite growers or communities. Farmers will also benefit by having a digital track record of production and payment data that will, in turn, make many of them bankable for the first time.
And Farmer Connect doesn’t intend to stop there. The platform is able to work with any commodity or asset. The company plans to expand to other smallholder farmer commodities, such as tea and cocoa, once the blueprint for the coffee industry has been validated.
The Advisory Board of Farmer Connect includes Ric Rhinehart, the emeritus executive director of the Specialty Coffee Association, and Mauricio Cardenas, the former Finance Minister of Colombia.
For further information:
Contact the Farmer Connect team at firstname.lastname@example.org
NOTES FOR THE EDITOR
About Beyers Koffie
Beyers Koffie is a leading, sustainable private label coffee company serving the major players in retail and coffee roasters in Europe, dating back since 1880. Beyers offers a wide range of coffee products: beans, roast and ground, pads and a large variety of capsules, produced in 2 sites in Belgium and Italy. http://www.beyers.eu
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 540.000 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 along the supply chain and help promote remunerative prices for coffee producers. http://www.cafedecolombia.com
IBM is recognized as the leading enterprise blockchain provider. The company’s research, technical and business experts have broken barriers in transaction processing speeds, developed the most advanced cryptography to secure transactions, and are contributing millions of lines of open source code to advance blockchain for businesses. IBM is the leader in open-source blockchain solutions built for the enterprise. Since 2016, IBM has worked with hundreds of clients across financial services, supply chain, government, retail, digital rights management and healthcare to implement blockchain applications, and operates a number of networks running live and in production. The cloud-based IBM Blockchain Platform delivers the end-to-end capabilities that clients need to quickly activate and successfully develop, operate, govern and secure their own business networks. IBM is an early member of Hyperledger, an open-source collaborative effort created to advance cross-industry blockchain technologies. For more information about IBM Blockchain, visit https://www.ibm.com/blockchain/or follow us on Twitter at @ibmblockchain.
About ITOCHU Corporation
The history of ITOCHU Corporation dates back to 1858 when the Company’s founder Chubei Itoh commenced linen trading operations. Since then, ITOCHU has evolved and grown over 160 years.
With approximately 110 bases in 63 countries, ITOCHU, one of the leading sogo shosha, is engaging in domestic trading, import/export, and overseas trading of various products such as textile, machinery, metals, minerals, energy, chemicals, food, general products, realty, information and communications technology, and finance, as well as business investment in Japan and overseas. www.itochu.co.jp
For more than 265 years, we have been inspired by the belief that it’s amazing what can happen over a cup of coffee. Today our coffee & tea portfolio is available in over 140 countries around the world through iconic household names including Jacobs, Tassimo, Moccona, Senseo, L’OR, Douwe Egberts, TiÓra, Super, Kenco, Pilao & Gevalia. For more information visit www.jacobsdouweegberts.com.
About The J. M. Smucker Company
Inspired by more than 120 years of business success and five generations of family leadership, The J. M. Smucker Company makes food that people and pets love. The Company’s portfolio of 40+ brands, which are found in 90 percent of U.S. homes and countless restaurants, includes iconic products consumers have always loved such as Folgers®, Jif®, and Milk-Bone® plus new favorites like Café Bustelo®, Smucker’s® Uncrustables® and Rachael Ray™ Nutrish®. Over the past two decades, the Company has grown rapidly by thoughtfully acquiring leading and emerging brands, while ensuring the business has a positive impact on its 7,000+ employees, the communities it is a part of and the planet. For more information about The J. M. Smucker Company, visit jmsmucker.com.
The J. M. Smucker Company is the owner of all trademarks referenced herein, except for the following, which is used under license: Rachael Ray is a registered trademark of Ray Marks Co. LLC.
About RGC Coffee:
RGC Coffee is a 50-year-old privately held importer of green coffee. Family-owned & operated, RGC Coffee provides in-depth expertise to roasters and retailers in the premium and specialty coffee markets. As forward-thinking business people, we promote sustainable development to preserve and enhance the communities and ecosystems where coffee grows. Our 3E (Elevate, Empower, Elevate) Sustainability Program currently covers 20 active projects in 5 origin countries to help promote the social well-being of farmers, their families & communities. We believe that collaboration is the key to unlocking the power of our work in sustainability. To learn more about RGC Coffee, please visit rgccoffee.com
About Streetcred ID:
Streetcred ID partners with innovators around the world to help them easily and rapidly integrate decentralized identity into any application. Run by a team of world-class experts in self-sovereign digital identity, Streetcred’s unique combination of developer tools and advisory is trusted by industries from rural farming to global banks alike. Streetcred ID is based in New York, NY. www.streetcred.id/
About Sucafina Group
Sucafina is a leading sustainable “Farm to Roaster” coffee company, with a family tradition in commodities that stretches back to 1905. Today, with more than 850 employees in 28 countries, the Group is a leading player in the world of green, roasted, instant coffee merchanting. With its main trading arm based in Geneva, Sucafina sources coffee from most producing countries, often directly from farmers, to provide its partners with sustainable value across the global supply chain. Learn more at www.sucafina.com