News Supply chain

ITOCHU backs blockchain food traceability startup Farmer Connect’s $9 million Series A


Agritech company Farmer Connect, best known for its coffee blockchain traceability solution, has announced a $9m Series A funding led by ITOCHU, to help create sustainable food supply chains.

The company will use the investment to develop new products, including ESG and Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) trackers, to maximize demand for inclusive, efficient and traceable agriculture supply chains that benefit farmers and consumers.

Swiss-based Farmer Connect, founded in 2019, operates software to help smallholder farmers link to the global food supply chain using IBM’s Food Trust blockchain technology and artificial intelligence. Ultimately the solution enables consumers to scan a barcode on their coffee beans and discover the coffee’s journey from farmer to cup, including packing, roasting and distribution.

The recent investment round was led by ITOCHU Corporation, one of Japan’s largest general trading companies and an existing participant in its coffee traceability projects. Another investor was one of Farmer Connect’s founding partners, Sucafina, a multinational coffee merchant.

Farmer Connect’s successful fundraise follows the start-up’s impressive growth in 2020, which included teaming up with the London School of Economics research team. The agritech company also expanded its client base and partnered with companies like US-based The JM Smucker Company and Jacob’s Douwe Egberts.

The $9m funding will enable Farmer Connect to recruit sector-specialist commercial and customer success teams for coffee, cocoa, tea, spices and fragrances. The company will look to expand its teams and build hubs in Geneva, New York, Singapore and Brazil.

Late last year, UK-based UCC Coffee partnered with Farmer Connect to launch a blockchain traceability solution for Orang Utan Coffee. Coffee traceability has proven a popular use of blockchain technology globally, with Nespresso tracking coffee from Zimbabwe and Nestlé using IBM’s blockchain to trace Zoégas coffee.

For over two years, global coffee shop Starbucks has leverage Microsoft Azure Blockchain to ensure coffee traceability. The service ensures information is shared, such as where the beans were grown and roasted, via the Starbucks app.