Thank My Farmer blockchain app connects consumers to smallholder coffee producers

At the 2020 Consumer Electronics Show (CES), Farmer Connect and IBM announced a new mobile application called Thank My Farmer. The app will allow coffee drinkers to trace their coffee to understand its quality and origin, and even support the farmer who grew the beans.

Developed with companies across the global supply chain, including Beyers Koffie, the Colombian Coffee Growers Federation (FNC), Itochu Corporation, Jacobs Douwe Egberts (JDE), The JM Smucker Company, Rabobank, RGC Coffee, Volcafe, Sucafina, and Yara International, Farmer Connect is a traceability platform powered by IBM Blockchain designed to help increase traceability, efficiency, and fairness in the coffee supply chain.

Coffee drinkers 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. But despite progress by international certifying bodies, Farmer Connect says there is still a lack of knowledge around the need for coffee farmers to earn a sufficient living for bringing their product to market.

Blockchain technology brings all the parties in the coffee supply chain together, simplifying the exchange and tracking of information and payments, and enabling greater trust. It creates a permanent digitised chain of transactions that cannot be altered. Each network participant has an exact copy of the data, and additions to the blockchain are shared throughout the network based on each participant’s level of permission. Farmers, wholesalers, traders, and retailers can interact more efficiently using comprehensive, near real-time access to this data, and consumers can have new insights about the origins of the products they consume.

“The aim is humanising each coffee drinker’s relationship with their daily cup,” says 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.”

The new app will launch to the general market in early 2020. Users in the United States and Canada will be able to scan QR codes on 1850 brand premium single-origin coffee. European consumers will be able to access the Thank My Farmer app through a new single-origin brand, Beyers 1769, roasted at Beyers Koffie.

As the app expands in 2020, large and small companies will be invited to join, and coffee drinkers will be able to support the communities where their coffee is grown by funding local projects.

“This project is another example of how blockchain technology can enable a channel for real change,” says Raj Rao, General Manager of IBM Food Trust. “Blockchain is more than aspirational business tech, it is used today to transform how people can build trust in the goods they consume. For business, it can drive greater transparency and efficiency.”

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