By Ken Cottrill, Co-Founder and Research Principal
As someone who struggles to remember names, the notion of remembering 380,000 seems other-worldly.
In a recent company announcement Starbucks’ Director of Traceability, Arthur Karuletwa, says: “since its beginning, Starbucks has known the names of the farmers within its supply chain, including the more than 380,000 farms it worked with last year alone.”
Of course, Starbucks has a high-powered IT system to keep these names on file and retrieve them when necessary. But the broader point is that not every company is as diligent about maintaining relationships with small-sized suppliers. For many companies, myriad small supplier farmers and manufacturers tucked away in remote areas of developing countries underpin their operations yet are largely anonymous.
Think of each smallholder as a pixel in an intricate supply chain picture. If many pixels are hazy or invisible, the overall picture is blurred. It’s very difficult to get a clear idea of what is going on when the image is unclear. In other words, it’s difficult to achieve high levels of traceability and visibility when a large portion of the supply chain is ill-defined.
That’s changing as distributed ledger and other technologies make it possible to connect with large networks of suppliers and track them individually, and consumer demand for supply chain transparency becomes irrepressible.
Starbucks has launched a pilot program with select coffee farmers in Costa Rica, Colombia and Rwanda to “develop next-level data technology to log and share real-time information along the journey of coffee beans with the aim of driving positive impact to smallholder farmers within its supply chain.”
The Starbucks pilot will use “traceability technology” – or blockchain technology – to take bean-to-cup transparency to the next level. And the coffee retailer will make the results of its two-year pilot publicly available.
By Pete Harris, Co-Founder and Research Principal
Welcome to the March issue of Chain Business Insights’ Blockchain/Supply Chain Management Vendor Focus.
This month, we have news and analysis for you regarding R3 and TradeIX, DNV GL and VeChain and Ambrosus. In addition, the “worth noting” section mentions CargoX, FR8, Open Port and Zemit. Of course, we’ll give our own insight into specific developments as well as the broader market dynamics. This is actionable intelligence, so let’s get stuck in.