- Nestlé is expanding its use of blockchain technology to its Zoégas coffee brand to allow customers to trace each bag of coffee back to its sourcing origin in Brazil, Rwanda or Colombia, according to a release.
- By scanning a QR code on the package, consumers can trace the journey of the beans from their growing origin to the Zoégas factory in Helsingborg, Sweden. The data includes information about the farmers, time of harvest, transaction certificate for the specific shipments and roasting period.
- The information is provided in partnership with The Rainforest Alliance to offer consumers access to independent information that the organization uses to verify producers in its own certification program.
Since Nestlé began using IBM Food Trust blockchain in 2017, the Swiss company has slowly been expanding the use of the technology as consumers increasingly look for more transparency about where their food and beverages come from. The addition of its Swedish coffee brand to the blockchain portfolio is no surprise as coffee is one category where consumers are particularly interested in knowing the source of their beans and the treatment of farmers.
Sustainability has been a popular topic in coffee for years and slumping prices have brought renewed interest to questions about fair wages. By introducing traceability to its packaging, Nestlé is differentiating itself from the sea of competitors in the coffee space and further connecting consumers to its product. Innova Market Insights 2020 Top Ten Trends list noted storytelling that delves into sourcing methodologies tops the rankings for what consumers are looking for in the products they purchase.
Zoégas also benefits from being a 100% Rainforest Alliance certified blend, which aligns with consumers’ demand for more sustainable products. According to National Coffee Association statistics referenced by the Financial Times, two-thirds of consumers aged 19 to 24 want to purchase sustainably grown and responsibly sourced products.
For Nestlé, it was likely not a difficult task to implement blockchain sourcing technology into this brand. The Swiss food giant already uses IBM blockchain technology for its Mousline purée and Guigoz infant formula in France. However, it was a smart move to partner with the Rainforest Alliance to provide consumers access to decentralized data from a third party. This way, consumers can feel confident that the transparency of the supply chain is verified by a reputable source who is not only there to sell products.
Nestlé is not the only brand to introduce blockchain traceability to its coffee packaging. J.M. Smucker and Dutch beverage company Jacobs Douwe Egberts are among those using a mobile app called Farmer Connect that is powered by IBM Blockchain technology. Based on the entrance of some big names, it is probable that many other smaller coffee companies will begin offering blockchain-supported product traceability in the near future.
While coffee has adopted this technology, it is not the only commodity that could benefit from a more transparent supply using blockchain. Cocoa is one ingredient where blockchain traceability could attract the interest of consumers. The cocoa industry is laden with challenges, including child labor, deforestation and farmer well-being. By providing insight into a company’s sourcing choices and verifying the certification of cocoa programs, blockchain technology would go a long way to delivering peace of mind to the average consumer.
At the same time, blockchain transparency also can serve as a tool to help prevent the spread of foodborne illnesses. In the event of an outbreak, quickly identifying the source could eliminate the need for sweeping recalls and instead allow for targeted techniques that could save companies money and consumers from illness.