UCC Coffee launches UK’s first blockchain partnership with Farmer Connect

UCC Coffee has partnered with Farmer Connect, a coffee traceability platform powered by IBM Blockchain, to launch the company’s first blockchain-traced coffee.

Retailers and consumers are now able to trace Orang Utan Coffee – licensed and distributed in the UK – back to its Indonesian origin using Farmer Connect’s Thank My Farmer app. Consumers simply scan the on-pack QR code with their mobile phone. The launch of Orang Utan Coffee also signifies two new firsts for Thank My Farmer: the addition of the UK as a consumer market, and Indonesia as an origin.

Miguel Reguera, senior green coffee buyer at UCC Coffee and Blockchain project leader, says: “The launch of the blockchain traceable Orang Utan Coffee with Farmer Connect is not only a first for UCC Coffee in the UK, but UCC globally. UCC is also the first ever coffee company to use Farmer Connect in the UK. We have integrated all elements of the supply chain, from crop to cup, thanks to a combined team effort from PT Orang Utan Lestari in Sumatra, Orang Utan Regenwald in Germany, Farmer Connect in Switzerland and the UCC Coffee teams in both the UK and Switzerland, who all collaborated to achieve this milestone for UCC. And we firmly believe that further change can happen if the coffee industry works together as a whole.”

Powered by the same state-of-the-art blockchain technology as IBM Food Trust, the Farmer Connect platform is designed to help increase transparency, credibility and fairness across the whole coffee supply chain. Thank My Farmer takes this transparency a step further by humanising the supply chain and connecting consumers more directly with the farmers that grow Orang Utan Coffee. Consumers can not only learn more about the Indonesian origin of the coffee but also the projects underway to support its coffee producing communities. Thank My Farmer also gives consumers the opportunity to become advocates for the coffee producers with shareable social media content and to support the Sumatran Orangutan Conservation Programme, through optional donations via credit card, Google Pay or Apple Pay.

Michael Chrisment, CEO of Farmer Connect, comments: “Our partnership with UCC, and the launch of Orang Utan Coffee in Thank My Farmer, comes at a time when consumers are increasingly taking a purpose-driven approach to their shopping patterns and looking to buy products that align with their values. Research from the IBM Institute for Business Value has found that, for consumers who say sustainability is very important, 71% surveyed are willing to pay a premium for sustainable and environmentally responsible brands.

“But they also want more access to more information, and to feel part of positive change at the very start of the supply chain of the coffee they drink. They want to know their purchasing decisions can have an actual impact – on people, projects and the environment. Thank My Farmer helps increase this total impact. If £1 from the supply chain is matched with £1 from the consumer, we have doubled our efforts to instigate real change on the ground.”

Paul Chang, global leader for Blockchain in the Distribution & Industrial Markets at IBM, adds: “A vast global supply chain like coffee makes it difficult for consumers to know where their products are coming from and whether the producers involved are making a living wage. Farmer Connect is partnering with pioneering brands like Orang Utan Coffee who are at the foreground of solving this problem, bridging the gap between consumers and the farmers who grow their coffee using innovations like blockchain. By being able to easily trace coffee to its source, we can help consumers and brands around the world support coffee growing regions.”

Stocked in Waitrose and Ocado stores, Orang Utan Coffee is a 100% Arabica, single origin coffee, rated highly for its quality and flavour due to the unique climate of the Gayo Highlands in Central Aceh, Northern Sumatra where the beans are grown.

UCC Coffee is on a mission to save the rapidly declining rainforest habitat of the Sumatran orangutan, where only 6,000 native primates remain in the wild – which is why for every kilo of green bean coffee purchased, its coffee farmers receive €0.50 and a further €0.50 goes to the Sumatran Orangutan Conservation Programme. To date, this independent programme has safely rehabilitated well over 200 orangutans and helped make ecological coffee farming a viable alternative for local farmers to protect the orangutans’ natural habitat.

For more information about the programme, visit: www.orang-utan-coffee.ch and: www.ucccoffee.co.uk/coffee/orang-utan/.

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