Folgers Taps Blockchain to Track Single-Origin Coffee Beans

As sustainability and traceability become important parameters for consumers, Folgers is tapping IBM to track its coffee beans using blockchain technology.

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Need to Know

  • In partnership with IBM, Farmer Connect is using blockchain technology to connect consumers to farmers to better understand where Folgers coffee comes from.
  • By simply scanning a QR code, US and Canadian consumers can track their Folgers coffee from farm to cup, understanding the washing process, shipping details, and even what neighborhood a coffee bean originates from.
  • IBM’s blockchain technology has the ability to transform business processes in all industries by introducing efforts focused on sustainability and traceability.

Analysis

Modern shoppers value corporate responsibility, transparency, and fair trade products. And when it comes to coffee, it turns out two-thirds of consumers want to buy sustainably-grown and responsibly-sourced products. Thanks to new blockchain technology, shoppers can now track their coffee—straight from the farm to their cup. 

Farmer Connect, a traceability platform that offers consumers the ability to trace their coffee beans with an interactive map, informs users about who is growing, roasting, importing, and selling beans. 

The app, developed in partnership with IBM Blockchain, is the result of a collaboration of a number of leading coffee companies such as Beyers Koffie, Sucafina, and The J.M. Smucker Company, the parent company of Folgers. 

Blockchain technology tracks coffee products as they move through the supply chain, starting from the farm and moving through exporters, shippers, importers, roasters, distributors, and retailers before finally reaching the consumer. The consumer gains insight into every step of the process, including details such as if the bean is washed, when it was shipped, and what region of a country it originated from.

The blockchain IBM uses is of the permission variety, meaning consumers can have access to certain details IBM, Folgers, and farmers make public. Other details, such as pricing, exact shipping quantities, and proprietary preparation methods are kept hidden due to concerns about competition.

Thanks to this new technology, consumers eager for more transparency in where their coffee comes from can not only trace their coffee but connect directly with the farmer who grew it. Farmers Connect is also launching a mobile app called Thank My Farmer, which connects the user to farmers, traders, roasters, and brands. The app also presents sustainability projects in coffee communities and an opportunity for consumers to support them.

“The aim is humanizing 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’re creating a virtuous cycle.” 

Launching in early 2020, US and Canadian consumers will first be able to track Folgers coffee by simply scanning a QR code. 

This technology is an example of what can happen when the use of blockchain technology is expanded to a wider range of industries and uses: blockchain tech is “transforming entire business processes and providing consumers with more trusted insights” in areas including food safety, global shipping, trade finance, and responsible mining.

The new blockchain tracking feature will first appear on the single-origin 1850 Coffee brand, with more to launch in the coming months.

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