IBM taps blockchain to make coffee sourcing traceable

IBM and coffee makers are teaming up to bring the tracking capabilities of blockchain to sourcing coffee. It will enable a new app, dubbed “Thank My Farmer” to allow coffee drinkers to trace their coffee beans back to the original farmer.

The app will let the coffee consumer learn more about their coffee and even support the farmer who grew the beans. The whole idea is to bring traceability, efficiency, fairness, and communication across the coffee supply chain which supports the $200 billion industry. IBM will show the project at CES 2020, the big tech trade show this week in Las Vegas.

IBM Blockchain helped create the Farmer Connect traceability platform, and it worked with global coffee supply chain companies including Beyers Koffie, The Colombian Coffee Growers Federation (FNC), Itochu, Jacobs Douwe Egberts (JDE), The J.M. Smucker Company, Rabobank, RGC Coffee, Volcafe, Sucafina, and Yara International.

Blockchain is the transparent and secure distributed ledger that makes cryptocurrencies possible. Since it offers secure identification for products, it helps get around problems like fraud or counterfeiting.

Coffee drinkers today consume more than half a trillion cups per year, and as many as two-thirds of consumers aged 19 to 24 surveyed say they prefer to buy coffee that is sustainably grown and responsibly sourced.

Above: Farmer Connect’s Thank My Farmer app.

Image Credit: IBM

But despite progress by international certifying bodies, there’s still a lack of knowledge and accountability around the need for coffee farmers to earn a sufficient living for bringing their product to market, IBM said.

Its large global supply chain makes coffee traceability 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 complex system tracks only their small segment of the journey, and each uses its own system to…

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