Traditionally, most consumers paid little attention to the crop-to-cup process. However, a recent cultural shift towards sustainability is driving many end-users to show more interest in the products they purchase and where they come from.
In 2017, United States-based NGO Natural Resources Defense Council released the second edition of its in-depth report titled Wasted: How America is Losing Up to 40 per cent of its Food from Farm to Fork to Landfill. The report revealed packing and distribution are among the key drivers in the supply chain that lead to food wastage.
“There are a lot of factors that can impact the quality of produce during transport and storage. For coffee, the biggest is moisture,” says Laurelyn Concepcion, Brand and Content Supervisor at GrainPro.
“In shipping containers, moisture builds due to condensation, and re-wetting coffee often leads to mould growth.”
GrainPro specialises in packaging, storage, and transportation of agricultural goods. Its products are designed to eliminate losses and ensure protection against insect infestation, mould growth, oxidation, and rancidity. The business offers storage options ranging from 500-gram bags to solutions that hold up to 300 metric tonnes.
GrainPro has operated within the international agriculture sector since 1992, focusing on cocoa, rice, spices, and other dry organic commodities, but over the past 10 years has shifted more of its attention towards the coffee industry.
“We knew that coffee producers and traders were facing problems that were solvable using our hermetic bags, so we saw a major opportunity to promote our cost-effective, easy-to-use products to this market,” Concepcion says.
“The primary product our coffee customers use is the GrainPro Bag. It features hermetic technology which means the coffee retains its freshness, aroma, taste, and colour. The atmosphere inside the bag is preserved, so it is completely airtight and moisture-free.”
The signature technology used in GrainPro bags is polyethylene with a special blend, allowing dry commodities to be stored for long periods of time without being affected. The bags were initially co-developed with Hohenheim University in Germany, but a majority of GrainPro research and development is in-house.
“We’ve done all sorts of testing to make sure the produce inside of the bag retains its integrity. The feedback we’ve had from customers is extraordinary. They have told us our bags have been a game changer for their businesses.”
While the bags are the most popular solution for GrainPro’s coffee customers looking to store and transport coffee, GrainPro’s Collapsible Dryer Case is also proving valuable for growers at origin who need to dry crops after harvest.
“It’s really effective for crop-drying and it keeps contaminants and other debris away from coffee or other produce,” Concepcion says.
The drier is quick to set up or collapse in case of rapid weather change and is low cost due to using solar energy.
Its low energy demand fits in with Grainpro’s growing emphasis on environmental and economic sustainability.
“Sustainability has always been in our vision and mission and one of our core pillars, but we are really looking to take it up a step in the future. We’re looking forward to the rest of 2020 with high hopes. We want to work with a lot more NGOs and governments to help farmers,” Concepcion says.
She adds that reducing post-harvest losses for farmers through climate-smart solutions is an important way to achieve this goal.
“We help farmers’ preparation and to secure their crops against the unexpected. We want to help make sure food retains its peak quality and doesn’t go to waste due to rain or floods,” Concepcion says.
Among GrainPro’s current partners is Guatemalan coffee farm El Injerto. The farm started as a sugarcane, wheat, and corn plantation before moving into coffee. GrainPro’s solutions have helped El Injerto to preserve the quality of its beans and receive better prices, which it then invests into the community and helps stimualte its economy.
“El Injerto is committed to growing not just the best coffee beans but also their community. The business has helped to establish electricity lines, schools, and health clinics in the surrounding area,” Concepcion says.
“Small-scale farmers are the foundations of our economies and our countries. They are very important to agriculture in general, so we want to strike up partnerships with as many of them as possible.”
As well as working towards a more sustainable future, Concepcion is optimistic that GrainPro can grow its presence in major coffee producing regions in the world.
“We have three major divisions around the world, in Latin America, Africa, and Asia. All of them have huge potential, but we have particularly identified Brazil as a potential growth opportunity as it’s the world’s biggest coffee producer,” she says.
“We are really hopeful of tapping into the coffee industry further as our products are perfectly made to store and transport it around the world.”