From crop to cup: UCC Coffee boosts traceability with Farmer Connect

By Flora Southey contact

- Last updated on GMT

Pic: GettyImages/nathaphat
Pic: GettyImages/nathaphat

Related tags: Coffee, IBM, blockchain

UCC is the first operator in the UK to partner with the IBM Blockchain-powered platform, which aims to enhance traceability, efficiency, and sustainability in coffee and cacao supply chains.

According to the partnership, retailers and consumers can now trace Orang Utan Coffee, which is licensed and distributed in the UK by UCC, along the entire supply chain from ‘crop to cup’.

The agreement does not only mark a first for Farmer Connect in the UK, but it also the first time the platform’s Thank My Farmer initiative – a smartphone app that connects consumers with coffee growers – will be used to link farmers in Indonesia with shoppers in the UK.

Bean to brew traceability

Farmer Connect is designed to help increase transparency, credibility and fairness across the coffee supply chain. By tapping the same blockchain technology as IBM Food Trust, the platform provides detailed information about where the product has been sourced.

The Thank My Father smartphone app takes this transparency a step further. When consumers scan a coffee product’s barcode – in this case, Orang Utan Coffee – via the app, they can learn where and from who those particular beans were sourced.  

Further, the app provides a full description of the coffee the consumer is drinking and pulls data from the blockchain to highlight that coffee’s journey on an interactive map. Consumers also have the option of becoming advocates for the coffee producers with shareable social media content and to support the Sumatran Orangutan Conservation Programme through option donations.

“The global coffee supply chain is complex, and many people don’t realise the different stages their coffee goes through before its final brewing,” ​said senior green coffee buyer at UCC Coffee Miguel Reguera.

“By using Farmer Connect’s products, UCC is simplifying this complexity; by providing accessible, understandable and validated data upload at every stage of the Orang Utan Coffee journey – from the highlands of Sumatra until it reaches coffee shelves of Waitrose and Ocado in the UK.”

Reguera continued: “The blockchain Orang Utan Coffee launch also signifies the first time Waitrose and Ocado shoppers will be able to digitally engage with their coffee and its source in this way, and to this degree of transparency.”

Price matching

According to Farmer Connect, UCC’s onboarding has come at just the right time.

“Our partnership with UCC, and the launch of Orang Utan Coffee in Thank My Farmer, comes at a time when consumers are increasingly taking a purpose-driven approach to the shopping patterns and looking to buy products that align with their values,” ​said Farmer Connect CEO Michael Chrisment.

“Research from the IBC Institute for Business Value has found that, for consumers who say sustainability is very important, 71% surveyed are willing to pay a premium for sustainable and environmentally responsible brands.”

At the same time, consumers want more access to more information, Chrisment continued, and to feel part of positive change.

“They want to know their purchasing decisions can have an actual impact – on people, projects and the environment. Thank My Farmer helps increase this total impact.

“If £1 from the supply chain is matched with £1 from the consumer, we have doubled our efforts to instigate real change on the ground.”

Orang Utan Coffee also believes in the benefit of price matching to improve environmental sustainability and farmer livelihoods. For every kilo of green bean coffee purchased, its coffee farmers receive €0.50 and a further €0.50 goes to the Sumatran Orangutan Conservation Programme.

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