App aims to improve traceability and understanding of coffee supply chain
Developed with companies across the globe, Farmer Connect is said to be a traceability platform powered by IBM Blockchain designed to help increase traceability, efficiency and fairness in the coffee supply chain.
Farmer Connect, the industry-led initiative and IBM, the American multinational information technology company, have announced a new mobile application called Thank My Farmer, which will reportedly allow coffee drinkers to trace their coffee to understand its quality and origin, and support the farmer who grew the beans.
Coffee drinkers allegedly consume more than half a trillion cups per year, and as many as two-thirds of consumers aged 19-24 surveyed said they prefer to buy coffee that is sustainably grown and responsibly sourced. But despite progress by international certifying bodies, there is still said to be a lack of knowledge around the need for coffee farmers to earn a sufficient living for bringing their product to market.
Its large, global supply chain is said to make tracing coffee difficult. Once grown, beans make several stops, including at coops, exporters, shippers, importers, roasters, distributors, and retailers before finally reaching the consumer. Each participant in this system reportedly tracks only their small segment of the journey, and each uses its own system to log data, which suggests the information about the product is sometimes fragmented.
The Thank My Farmer app reportedly pulls information directly from the blockchain in a standardised way that can be used across the industry. It is said to connect the user to farmers, traders, roasters and brands. The information is presented on an interactive map, allowing each product to ‘tell a story in a simple and scalable way’.
Blockchain technology is said to bring all the parties in the coffee supply chain together, simplifying the exchange and tracking of information and payments, and enabling greater trust. It aims to create a permanent digitised chain of transactions that cannot be altered. Each network participant has an exact copy of the data, and additions to the blockchain are shared throughout the network based on each participant’s level of permission.
The Thank My Farmer app also presents sustainability projects in coffee communities and an opportunity for consumers to support them.
“The aim is humanising each coffee drinker’s relationship with their daily cup,” said David Behrends, Founder and President of Farmer Connect. “Consumers now can play an active role in sustainability governance by supporting coffee farmers in developing nations. Through the blockchain and this consumer app, we are creating a virtuous cycle.”
The new mobile application will launch to the general market in early 2020. Users in the US and Canada will be able to scan QR codes on 1850® brand premium single-origin coffee. European consumers will be able to access the app through a new single-origin brand, Beyers 1769, roasted at Beyers Koffie.
As the app plans to expand in 2020, large and small companies will allegedly be invited to join, and coffee drinkers will be able to support the communities where their coffee is grown by funding local projects.