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First nutmeg from Transparent Chains harvested for Coop 31/01/2019

Supermarket chain Coop will sell nutmeg from Verstegen Spices & Sauces starting in May 2019. In partnership with Fairfood, this chain has been made transparent with the help of blockchain technology. Among other things, this technology allows us to see whether the farmers behind the nutmeg earn a living income.

Back to the origin
Verstegen wants to invest in a sustainable and future-proof food system, with transparent and short chains. With the aid of blockchain technology Verstegen works on a transparent nutmeg chain and every step between farmer and plate is recorded. This makes it clear where the nutmeg comes from and whether the farmers get paid the agreed upon price. The purpose of blockchain is—among other things—to improve the position of the farmer, to stimulate the entrepreneurship of the farmer and thus to work towards a future proof chain.

Livable income
Verstegen works together with Fairfood for the blockchain project. Additionally, the family business gave the NGO the assignment of investigating the level of a livable income for the nutmeg farmers on the Indonesian Sangihe islands. At the moment, Verstegen pays a premium on top of the usual market price for nutmeg. However, Verstegen would like to provide insight into whether this is enough for the farmers. We consider an income to be viable when all members of a household can afford a decent standard of living using the net income of that household. This net income must also be earned under good working conditions. A decent standard of living includes: enough food and water, a roof over their head, education, health care, transportation and clothing.

Nutmeg farmer Riandy sells his harvest

“If the results of the research are known, we would like to see where we can steer in order to achieve a livable income”, says Michel Driessen, CEO of Verstegen. “We have to take into account the fact that the farmers also supply to other parties and that most farmers also have other sources of income, for example from selling coconuts. We believe it’s important that farmers can invest in their future and that of their children. By actively involving farmers in the production chain and working towards a livable income, we stimulate the entrepreneurship of the farmers. In this way farming becomes an attractive future for the new generations.”

Consumers are included in Verstegen’s ambition by displaying two prices in the application: the price that Verstegen currently pays and the price that farmers should receive for their nutmeg in order to arrive at a viable income.

Beta version
The beta version of the web application can now be viewed online. The launch of that beta version coincided with the start of the nutmeg harvest. Verstegen wants to be as transparent as possible in the project, and that’s why consumers and the industry are already paying attention. From the moment the nutmeg is on the shelves of Coop, consumers can view the nutmeg’s journey in the final app via a QR code.

Currently in the application you can see how much nutmeg has been harvested and sold by the farmers involved in the project. New information can be viewed live immediately. As the journey of the nutmeg progresses, the verification of the claims ‘good price’ and ‘good quality’ can also be viewed. The farmers verify with an SMS that they have been paid the agreed upon price. That the nutmeg is of good quality is determined by different quality checks in labs, which will be put into the system with blockchain technology.

“We are very enthusiastic about this project”, says Harold Ploegstra, category manager at Coop.”More and more consumers are asking for transparency and the honest story. This progressive project from Verstegen offers exactly that and fits well within our sustainability ambitions.”

Verstegen and Fairfood are expected to provide insight into other herbs and spices in 2019 and 2020 using blockchain technology. “We want to invest in sustainable trade relations with all people behind our products,” says Driessen. “That starts with identifying the farmers. Blockchain technology allows us to do that.”

For the editors

For more information, interview requests and/or images, please contact: 

Marije van der Vorm
Corporate marketing manager bij Verstegen Spices & Sauces

Channa Brunt
Manager communicatie bij Fairfood

About Verstegen
Verstegen stands for creative and surprising innovations in the ‘food branch’. For sustainability, quality and boundless service. Always at the service of our customers, the customer is central and always based on the idea that there is one kind of quality: the very best. Because only with the best quality you can create the most beautiful flavors, the tastiest products and the most special concepts. 

This best quality starts at the origin. There is where the most beautiful ingredients can be found. Here we work together with local farmers on the purest herbs and spices. From here we have everything in our own hands. From transport to self grinding and safe processing. We have been doing this since 1886 as a family business, with the 4th generation at the helm. 

About Fairfood
Fairfood is working on a transparent, honest and sustainable food system. We do this using fair tech (including blockchain technology) and together with the stakeholders involved in this system. Our mission: well-informed consumers and only food on our plates that has been produced by people who can live in dignity, respecting the environment and making everyone progress socially and economically. 

About Coop
Coop is a result-oriented, independent cooperative that, conscious of its social position, provides an optimal package of foodstuffs and related products/services to consumer and entrepreneurial members. Coop has grown by working together. We do this for our customers, but also with our customers, because: together you make the difference. Coop has 290 supermarkets nationwide, 145 of which are branch offices and 145 are run by independent entrepreneurs.