By recording each step between tree and plate with blockchain technology, Verstegen works together with the NGO Fairfood to create a transparent and inclusive nutmeg chain. The farmers and consumers involved also take part and have an overview of that chain. With a QR code, the consumer learns about the origin of the nutmeg, while the farmer gains access to information relevant to him or her.
“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. In this way 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.
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 500 kilos of nutmeg will be put on blockchain. This nutmeg will come from the Indonesian Sangihe Islands, where it is currently being grown by more than 40 farmers. From that moment on, the journey can be followed live by consumers. In early 2019 the nutmeg can be found at a retailer (still to be confirmed).
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 conducts research on behalf of Verstegen into the level of a living income for Indonesian nutmeg farmers. At the moment Verstegen is already paying a premium on top of the usual market price for nutmeg. The company wants to know if this is sufficient and on the basis 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 13 th in ‘s Hertogenbosch, Verstegen and Fairfood present the Blockchain Experience . There, visitors can follow the production process or use a video, photo and text, to learn more about the advantages of blockchain technology. Driessen also talks about the project together with de Jong, during a Q & A with Marijn Frank on the main stage.