- A mobile app using the Farmer Connect traceability platform powered by IBM Blockchain was announced this week at the 2020 CES conference in Las Vegas. The "Thank My Farmer" app will let consumers trace their coffee beans with an interactive map, according to a release.
- The platform uses the same blockchain technology powering IBM's Food Trust, a permissioned, permanent and shared record of food system data launched by IBM in 2018. The application brings together information from farmers, traders, roasters and brands under one system.
- U.S. and Canadian consumers will first be able to access the app by scanning QR codes on the 1850 Coffee brand of premium single-origin coffee from Folgers, owned by Smucker. It will appear on other coffee brands in coming months.
A complex business environment featuring multiple fragmented entities makes for an ideal playground for blockchain technology and its promises of unified trust.
As consumers increasingly look for more transparency about where their food and beverages come from, this app traces where the beans originated and could boost coffee sales for participating companies, Blockchain tracks products as they travel through the supply chain, so it can help enhance consumer confidence in the source and quality of what they eat and drink.
More companies have been turning to this technology in the last year. Albertsons joined the IBM Food Trust, a blockchain-based food and supply chain solution, last spring to track romaine lettuce after several foodborne illness outbreaks. Kroger, Walmart, Dole, Driscoll's, Golden State Foods, McCormick, McLane, Tyson Foods and Unilever also use the IBM Food Trust solution.
The new technology can follow an individual bag of coffee beans from delivery to the cup, according to Farmer Connect. The plan is to use farmer IDs to track growing conditions, record transactions and follow yields and sales prices.
The project foresees roasters eventually being able to digitally track the full supply chain, and importers being able to improve trading strategies. By the end of this year, they may be able to set farmer agreements, send payments and follow coffee supply trails using this technology, Farmer Connect said.
For coffee companies, these new apps could enhance traceability and sustainability credentials — qualities consumers look for when choosing from the myriad brands available in today's marketplace. According to National Coffee Association statistics referenced by Financial Times, two-thirds of consumers ages 19 to 24 want to purchase sustainability grown and responsibly sourced products.