Blockchain as the first step in the direction of sustainable coffee

Amsterdam, June 21st, 2018—The future of our coffee is in danger. Coffee farmers live below the poverty line, forcing the next generations to look elsewhere for employment. The production chain from berry to coffee is un-transparent, thereby alienating farmers and consumers from the unfair profit distribution in that chain. The farmer is the ultimate victim of this. With blockchain technology, Fairfood wants to provide insight into these production chains and tackle the transparency problem at the root of the system. The organization is bringing 100 kilograms of blockchained sustainable coffee to the Netherlands.

Together with, among others, ID Coffees and Bext360, Fairfood put the journey of 100 kilos of Colombian coffee on blockchain. The parties provide insight into the production chain of that coffee by logging each step using blockchain technology. A QR code on the packaging of the coffee brings the consumer to a page where every step with the necessary verification is explained. This shows, among other things, how much farmers have earned from their coffee.

“By including farmers and consumers on blockchain, consumers gain insight into the origin of their products,” says Marten van Gils, program manager of blockchain at Fairfood. “On the other hand, the farmer gets more insight into what happens to his product. He can use this information to strengthen his position.”

“We believe that transparency is an important part of the future of sustainable coffee,” says van Gils. “The transparency that blockchains can offer gives the various players in the production chains the opportunity to review these chains and gain new insights. It is the beginning of a transformation that is necessary for a fair distribution of the money in those chains.” Fairfood wants the project to be a source of inspiration for the coffee industry. “We hope that others will follow us and that transparent coffee will soon be available in all supermarkets.”

Problems in the coffee
Presently, less than 10% of coffee production yields remain in the country of production. Twenty million small-scale coffee farmers in Africa, Latin America and Asia grow 70% of all coffee that is drunk worldwide. The majority of them live below the poverty line of €1.60 per day. This leads to, among other things, major debts, child labor and the excessive use of pesticides.

The blockchained coffee is part of a campaign that Fairfood  previously launched. With the help of coffee drinkers in the Netherlands, Fairfood kicked off the WAKEcUPCALL initiative in May, which encourages the coffee industry to pay fair prices to coffee farmers. Fairfood is supported by a coalition of front-runners who endorse the initiatve. Among these front-runners are smaller specialty coffee companies who often source their own coffee and maintain close ties with their farmers. Together with these specialty coffee companies and various coffee bars and baristas, Fairfood appeals to the Dutch community to join us and wake up the coffee industry on our website

Last year Fairfood put 1,000 coconuts from Indonesia on blockchain. This made Fairfood the first party in the Netherlands to sell blockchained food. In doing so, it was possible to calculate how high participating farmers’ incomes had to be in order for them to receive a viable income. In addition to the prevailing market price, they subsequently received a premium in order to reach this viable income.

For the editor

For more information and/or visual material please contact:
Lonneke van Genugten
Campaign Manager Fairfood
+31 6 52 05 29 96
[email protected]

About the project
All parties that participated in the project are: Asprocaes, Bext360, Bocca, Caravela Coffee, Fairfood, ID Coffees, Pastoral and Rabobank Foundation.

About Fairfood 
Fairfood is a non-profit campaign organization that works for honest food chains. Our ultimate mission is to: only have honest food on our plate. We want everyone in the production chains to earn a living income. That is why awareness campaigns take place in order for us to inform the consumer about the problems and solutions. Behind the scenes, we are now building partnerships and projects, either with or without the industry.

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