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The world’s largest food producer, Nestlé, has announced that it will be expanding its use of blockchain technology, through its membership with the IBM Food Trust Blockchain Initiative, to the company’s luxury coffee brand Zoégas.
Nestlé launched select editions of Zoégas whole beans and roast & ground coffee in Sweden with the ‘Summer 2020’ range being a 100% Rainforest Alliance certified blend of arabica coffee beans from three origins – Brazil, Rwanda and Colombia. Through blockchain-recorded data, buyers of the coffee will now be able to trace their coffee back to the different origins.
The partnership with the Rainforest Alliance is important in this journey of accountability, traceability and transparency as the alliance independently provides reliable data beyond what is usually disclosed by Nestlé.
The Rainforest Alliance provides its own certification information, guaranteeing the traceability of the coffee. This information is directly accessible to everyone with the IBM Food Trust blockchain platform.
By scanning the QR code on the packaging, consumers can follow the coffee journey from the growing locations to the Zoégas factory in Helsingborg where the beans are roasted, grounded and packed. The data includes information about farmers, time of harvest, transaction certificate for the specific shipments, as well as the roasting period.
I spoke with Benjamin Dubois, Blockchain lead and digital transformation manager at Nestlé, and he explained the significance of this new blockchain milestone for Nestlé, and for providing transparency to consumers.
“The collaboration with Zoégas and the Rain Forest Alliance constitutes a major milestone for us. Indeed, for the first time in this category and for Nestlé, an independent, highly recognized organisation, the Rainforest Alliance, upload their own information on the coffee Nestlé source and inform consumers on Nestlé products via the IBM Food Trust platform,” Dubois explained.
“This is a step forward into our journey to leverage technologies for trust and transparency for consumers, where we are piloting not just IBM Food Trust but other technologies and platforms (for instance OpenSC) to give us a robust technology portfolio covering for most of our use cases in this field.”
“We are certainly looking at expanding the use of IBM Food Trust to more products, and not just in the coffee category, in the next months as part of our drive for transparency.”
Nestlé’s ongoing blockchain work
Nestlé, as one of the founding members of the IBM Food Trust, has been driving the use of blockchain in food supply chain management. The company’s work has actually expanded beyond just the use of IBM’s private blockchain as they announced a partnership with OpenSC to pilot a public blockchain for a few essential commodities in 2019.
Dubois explained that the work being done with the public blockchain’s has been about the use of public blockchain for key commodities and issues around sustainability.
“These are longer term projects, as we sometimes have to start from the beginning to implement the right technologies to build traceability and transparency in complex supply chains, but also to construct a data-driven, continuous way to monitor and report our impact to consumers and interested parties.”
“This is still on-going with OpenSC, on dairy (starting in NZ) and palm oil (starting in Mexico). A lot of exciting work, technology tests and implementations have happened recently and I hope you will be able to see early incarnations of that in the course of 2020,” he told me.
The benefit of Nestlé using both OpenSC and IBM’s Foodtrust, as well as the IFT Consortium allows them to broadly tackle the data that is available in the food supply chain management sector.
“For Nestlé, IFT is a ready to use solution that is great to convey and consolidate existing data sources that increase the traceability on our products, allowing us to be more transparent than ever with consumers,” Dubois added.
“In addition, the maturity of the solution and our experience with it means that we can be fast to deploy to new products and help our partners understand how to supply data. In 2019 we went live with consumers in France on two products, and in the Nordics with one. These were milestones, both from as the first tests with consumers and from an implementation perspective.”