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COFCO joins global agribusiness blockchain consortium

commodities grain

Two months ago four of the world’s largest agribusiness companies announced a consortium to digitize shipping using AI and blockchain. Today COFCO International joins the initiative to “Modernise Global Agricultural Commodity Trade Operations”. COFCO International is the Swiss-based overseas investment and asset management arm of Chinese agribusiness COFCO Group. The existing consortium companies are Archer Daniels Midland (ADM), Bunge, Cargill, and Louis Dreyfus Company (LDC). Together the aim is to increase transparency and efficiency for customers.

The timing is interesting amid a trade war. However, given the 90-day agreed truce, China was back in the soya bean market this week, according to Reuters.

Company Revenue People
ADM $60.8 billion 31,300
Bunge $45.8 billion 31,000
Cargill $114.7 billion 155,000
LDC $18.8 billion 19,000
COFCO $34 billion 12,000

“We are pleased to join this initiative as a founding member,” said Johnny Chi, Chairman and CEO of COFCO International. “Emerging technologies like blockchain give us the opportunity to create a transparent, secure and efficient platform and transform global agricultural trade operations. Our shared vision is to develop a new standard available to everyone, bringing industry-wide benefits.”

The initial target sectors are grain and oilseeds where the group plans to use automation to cut costs and resources relating to documents used after trades are agreed. Ultimately the aim is to digitize many manual functions from contracts to invoices and payments. The goal is improved security, reliability, efficiency and transparency.

As an indication of the project’s early stage, the group has yet to settle on technology solutions or partners.


However, Cargill may have some ideas regarding technology. In January it was involved in a pilot for the Voltron letter of credit project. Last week at the Hyperledger Global Forum in Basel it was announced that Cargill is working with Intel on a yet-to-be-named project underpinned by Hyperledger Sawtooth for supply chains. In other words, it’s more than a blockchain.

It has code libraries that are specifically designed for common supply chain use cases such as traceability. However, the developers are insistent it is not an application: “This is a collection of tools, frameworks and libraries that help accelerate the development of applications.”

It will have built-in compliance with common standards such as GS1, UN Standard Products and Services Code, GTIN, and the Open Data Initiative.

Other agribusiness platforms include Agrocorp that’s working with Singapore bank DBS on a system that connects with 4,500 Australian farmers. The solution was created by Singapore-based Distributed Ledger Technologies using Hyperledger Fabric technology.

Two weeks ago Texas-based startup GrainChain announced it had raised a $2.5 million in funding from Medici Ventures, part of