Nestlé brews consumer coffee blockchain

Blockachaino: Nestlé brews consumer coffee blockchain

The food giant has expanded its use of IBM Food Trust blockchain technology to deliver full transparency on the provenance of a steaming cup of joe

Swedish coffee aficionados can trace their arabica beans back to their place of origin after Nestlé expanded its use of blockchain technology.

Nestlé brews consumer coffee blockchain
(Photo: Rainforest Alliance)

Using the IBM Food Trust blockchain, which the food giant joined as a founding member back in 2017, Swedish customers can trace the beans in their bag of coffee all the way back to the Brazilian, Colombian, and even Rwandan farms where they were grown.

The “Summer 2020” range of Zoégas whole beans—as well as roast and ground coffee—offers full transparency as well as “independent, reliable” data as to the provenance of a steaming cup of joe, according to the Swiss food giant

By scanning a QR code on the packaging, consumers can find out where beans were grown, roasted, grounded and packed—and even discover details about the farmers and the exact time of harvest.

More than the journey

The project is an extension of Zoégas’ existing relationship with The Rainforest Alliance, which gave it the Rainforest Alliance Certified seal three years ago.

That does more than just track provenance. The Rainforest Alliance certifies smallholder coffee growers who follow sustainable farming practices designed to protect biodiversity. But, the annually audited certification also covers social and economic criteria, according to the organization. 

“These criteria are designed to protect biodiversity, deliver financial benefits to farmers, and foster a culture of respect for workers and local communities,” according to the group. “Rainforest Alliance certification also promotes decent living and working conditions for workers, gender equity and access to education for children in farm communities.”

The organization also provides training in sustainable farming techniques.

The blockchain food chain

Several Nestlé products across Europe already have their production processes tracked through blockchain as part of the company’s drive to bring “transparency and sustainability efforts to life for consumers.”

Nestlé’s Mousline puree mashed potato line was the first of its blockchain pilots that provided farm to shelf origin information to consumers, in collaboration with the French retail giant Carrefour, a consumer-facing blockchain pioneer. A QR code enables buyers of Nestlé products to find the date of production, storage time, the location of warehouses, and information about the farmers who supply the potatoes.

Nestlé’s Guigoz infant formula followed. This was especially important considering that these types of products have been involved in food safety scares before, most notably in China.

As reported by Modern Consensus last summer, Walmart has created a blockchain traceability platform in China in an attempt to make food supply chains safer. The world’s biggest brick-and-mortar retailer has rolled out this technology in several territories—including in the U.S., where leafy greens are now being tracked following on from the Romaine lettuce E. coli contamination scandal in 2018. 

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Connor Sephton is a journalist with an interest in cryptocurrencies, personal finance, and financial inclusion—as well as the challenges the crypto industry faces in achieving mainstream adoption. He owns cryptocurrencies.