By Sherree DeCovny, Co-Founder and Research Principal
A first step in creating food supply chains that are environmentally sustainable, ethical and meet the growing demand for transparency is sourcing ingredients and supporting logistics services that meet these standards. Two Dutch startups, Cogoport Europe and Milvum, are supporting Royal Blue & Orange International Trading (RBO Trading,) a Dutch enterprise that is developing a blockchain-based marketplace solution that could provide such a sourcing option.
According to RBO CEO Sukai Ceesay, food service franchises have a difficult time sourcing consistent and reliable products from suppliers – even approved vendors. Consequently, they need to be vigilant when purchasing food ingredients to ensure the quality is consistent, and they’re produced ethically and consciously. Another issue is that being small businesses, franchises can’t take advantage of volume-driven sourcing, so they typically pay more for food ingredients, equipment and logistics.
RBO Trading was established as a conscious and ethical B2B sourcing platform that utilizes blockchain and artificial intelligence (AI) to verify and certify products and services, and provide end-to-end transparency.It helps food service businesses perform due diligence, purchase from approved suppliers and consolidate purchasing to obtain the best rates on food products and shipping. The company’s ability to level load demand (satisfy demand through inventory or the production schedule) from multiple markets reduces product shortage risks and food security issues. RBO Trading is already on the approved supplier and vendor list of several multinational franchise companies and local restaurants.
Cogoport Europe’s services are complementary to RBO Trading’s because it’s a digital freight marketplace that enables smaller firms to book transportation efficiently at more competitive rates, says Carmit Glik, CEO of Cogoport Europe.The marketplace takes some complexity out of the process of shipping containers, and offers a transparent list of comparable prices from shipping lines on popular routes across the globe. The 27,000 users registered on the Cogoport platform can select their best shipping solution in minutes, reducing booking times, and simplifying complicated discussions with multiple carriers on capacity availability and freight costs. Users can then track the progress of their consignment at every stage of its journey, in real time, allowing shippers to offer greater visibility to their end customers.
RBO Trading is collaborating with Cogoport to link its shipping platform into RBO Trading’s existing global marketplace covering more than 95 countries. Cogoport will also support RBO Trading’s business with container load shipping options. Milvum, another Netherlands-based SME and technology partner, is doing some of the blockchain research and development for the early stage product, and the launch is targeted for mid-2020.
In addition, RBO Trading has received “Innovative Status” for a social solution with universal impact. The project was awarded a subsidy through a program backed by the Dutch Ministry of Economic Affairs called MKB Innovatiestimulering Topsectoren (MIT) or SME Innovation Stimulation Top sectors.
The goal of RBO Trading’s solution is to support the sourcing of the best quality and most cost-effective food ingredients and logistics with end-to-end food security verification.It has been used and tested in select markets and with various customer demographics. The fully launched marketplace will benefit farmers, producers of food, logistics providers and ultimately consumers globally, who will be able to ensure the health, security and safety of their food.
Over the next year, Cogoport and Milvum will doing their part on RBO Trading’s marketplace to help set up the platform, test it and collect data. RBO Trading has been onboarding customers, and only companies that agree to be validated can participate on the platform. At this stage, they haven’t revealed any details about which blockchain platform will be used, or whether it will be public or private.
Chain Business Insights monitors the use of blockchain and related technologies in the food industry. Our research brief on “Blockchain and the Future of Food: Driving Efficiency, Transparency and Trust in Food Supply Chains” explains how blockchain can help break down information silos to improve visibility and traceability from the farm to table. A shorter eBook version is also available. Our eBook on “Blockchain in Smallholder Farming: Sowing the Seeds of Growth” investigates how blockchain and agricultural technologies could improve productivity significantly, lift millions of smallholder farmers out of poverty and bolster the world’s food supply. We’re looking forward to watching the progress of the Cogoport-Milvum-RBO Trading project as well as others in the food industry.