Verstegen: tracing nutmeg
Verstegen Spices & Sauces wanted to know: how fair is our nutmeg? Together with Fairfood, they set out to make the story of their nutmeg completely transparent. Social sustainability starts here.
Verstegen Spices & Sauces and Fairfood used the blockchain technology to make the product chain of Indonesian nutmeg transparent. Ultimately, this transparency should give the farmer and consumer greater involvement. The farmer strengthens her or his position by gaining new knowledge about the chain, while the consumer gains insight into price agreements and quality claims. Additionally, research into living income on the Indonesian Sangihe islands (where the nutmeg is grown) was carried out, in order to set a benchmark for Verstegen’s ambitions on social sustainability.
What did we do?
By recording each step between tree and plate with blockchain technology, Verstegen and Fairfood create a transparent and inclusive nutmeg chain. The farmers and consumers involved also take part and have an overview of that very chain. With a QR code, the consumer learns about the origin of the nutmeg, while the farmer gains access to information relevant to her or him.
“Verstegen wants to invest in a sustainable and future-proof food system, with transparent and short chains”, says Michel Driessen, CEO of Verstegen. “By actively involving farmers in the production chain, we stimulate the entrepreneurship of those farmers. By doing so, we also want to make it attractive for future generations to become farmers. Verstegen is a family business and wants to enter into long-term relationships with chain partners. Blockchain is a means to strengthen and improve collaboration.”
The right price
“With the right resources, the farmer can access information that is relevant to him, such as further quality controls and price building, enabling him to expand his entrepreneurship”, says Sander de Jong, managing director of Fairfood. “Thanks to blockchain technology, two-way traffic can arise. The product makes a journey from farmer to consumer, but in the end we want the information to go in two directions, so that the farmer can learn from what is happening elsewhere in the chain.”
The farmer’s position is strengthened at the same time because he can confirm anonymously whether agreed upon payments are fulfilled. “Other players in the chain, including the consumer, can immediately see if things don’t happen the way they are supposed to”, says de Jong.
The best quality
In addition to the question regarding whether the farmer has received the agreed upon price, the verification of quality and food safety is also tracked in blockchain. Consumers can, for example, check whether the nutmeg they purchase is the best quality as promised by Verstegen.
In December 2019, 500 kilos of nutmeg where put on a blockchain. This nutmeg came from the Indonesian Sangihe Islands, where it was grown by more than 40 farmers. From that moment on, the journey could be followed live by consumers. From early 2019 the nutmeg could be found at Dutch supermarket COOP.
The pilot project is expected to be expanded to include other products in the Verstegen assortment. “The project is a first step in the direction of our ambition to make all our chains transparent,” says Driessen. “It is a chance for us to see what the obstacles are and to take them away.”
Fairfood conducted research on behalf of Verstegen into the level of a living income for Indonesian nutmeg farmers. Before the project Verstegen was already paying a premium on top of the usual market price for nutmeg. The company wants to know if this is sufficient and based of the outcome of the research, work towards paying a living income where necessary.
“We have been working with a trusted buyer for years, but how do I know for certain that farmers will be paid the agreed price? And how do I know if the farmers have enough to get by on?” Says Driessen. “Verstegen is actively building sustainable relationships with the farmers behind our herbs and spices. This starts with a living income, so that they can not only meet all of their daily needs, but can also invest in increasing the quality and quantity of the harvest, and ultimately the future of their business, themselves and that of their children.”
World Food Day
During the free event of ‘World Food Day’ on Saturday October 13th (2018) in ‘s Hertogenbosch, Verstegen and Fairfood presented the Blockchain Experience . There, visitors could follow the production process or use a video, photo and text, to learn more about the advantages of blockchain technology. Driessen also talked about the project together with de Jong, during a Q & A with Marijn Frank on the main stage.
What an honest and sincere outcome of the project. Very beautiful what we are doing. I hope it will get a nice follow-up.
Trabocca: In pursuit of poverty free coffee
On their journey to poverty-free coffee, Trabocca saw the importance of transparency and traceability, and employed our new platform, Trace, as a tool to answer the question whether coffee farmers are earning a living income.
“With Trace, we are forced to do more digging. This presents us with realities that need fixing, and allows us to look for solutions. I see this as a part of a larger scheme. It’s a foundation to start building a more sustainable future.”
A coconut’s journey
In 2017, Fairfood became one of the first parties worldwide to sell a food product that had been logged on blockchain from tree to plate: 1,000 Indonesian coconuts. A pilot project to encourage large coconut players to explore their own chains.
“By scanning the note you can see where it came from and what exactly was paid to whom. This way we prevent abuse and you can see that the farmers have received a fair living income!”