Today Swiss startupfarmer connect, a global supply chain software provider that enables fair, sustainable and traceable agriculture, has secured approx. €7.5 million in a Series A investment round.
The round was led by ITOCHU Corporation, a major Japanese general trading company that supplies raw materials to manufacturers and retailers around the world. Additional investors from Europe and both North and South America participated in the round, along with founding partner Sucafina, the ‘Farm to Roaster’ coffee company.
Founded in 2019, farmer connect’s vision is to “humanize consumption through technology”, enabling traceable, sustainable and efficient agriculture supply chains by connecting farmers to consumers, and everyone in between.
The startup helps small holder farmers to connect digitally to the agriculture supply chain, and its blockchain technology ensures traceability and data validation by all parties. Its ‘thank my farmer’ app then allows consumers to trace the origins and quality of the commodity and even financially support the producer that grew the raw goods.
This collaborative network enabled by the farmer connect software ensures safe and immutable supply chain data, which supports producers in accessing financing and investment, therefore improving living conditions, and also benefits traders, roasters, retailers and brands by streamlining the process for them to access sustainable produce through task automation, reporting and smart contracts.
The Series A financing follows significant growth in 2020, which saw a surge in revenue and a rapidly growing roster of clients and industry partnerships, including Cooxupé, the world’s biggest coffee cooperative in Brazil, UCC Coffee, Beyers Koffie, and The J.M. Smucker Company. Additionally, farmer connect recruited ex-Kraft Foods and Nestlé executive Michael Chrisment as CEO in July 2020, to fast-track growth.
CEO Michael Chrisment commented: “The agriculture supply chain is crying out for a data-led approach, and consumers want to be able to make informed decisions about the products they buy. Traceability has traditionally been highly challenging and fragmented, but technologies like blockchain bring all parties in the supply chain together, simplifying the exchange and tracking of information and payments, and enabling greater trust. This, in turn, empowers smallholder farmers, reduces inefficiencies for global enterprises, and informs people about how their products were produced.”
“There is huge supply chain demand for traceability, ESG and SDG tracking, carbon footprint tracking and further task automation. This investment round will help us to scale rapidly to meet demand and fulfil our commitments to support industry transformation”, Chrisment continued.
The Series A funding will support the continued development of new products and services specifically in the area of ESG and SDG tracking, and the recruitment of sector-specialist commercial and customer success teams across the world (including Geneva, New York City, Singapore and Brazil) in sectors that impact small holder farmers, such as coffee, cocoa, tea, spices and fragrances.
“The farmer connect software is well-timed with the rapidly increasing demand for solutions that bring traceability and trust to the agriculture supply chain,” said Koji Yamamoto (Mr), General Manager of Sugar, Confectionery Materials, Coffee & Dairy Products Dept, ITOCHU. “We believe there is a definite demand from the market for more transparent and ethical solutions that provide value to all actors of the supply chain.”
The farmer connectsoftware also builds and expands on the IBM Blockchain Transparent Supply, adapting it to the needs and business models of the supply chain and adding new features, such as the ability for farmers to participate directly in data sharing and control.
“The industry experts at farmer connect have developed a powerful blockchain collaborative ecosystem that unpacks the traceability of commodities. We are excited to collaborate with and support them as they work to build a great tech company that connects farmers and consumers, and that helps farmers to improve production and scale their business,” commented Nicolas A. Tamari, Chief Executive Officer, Sucafina SA