Swiss agritech startup Farmer Connect (styled by the company as “farmer connect”) has secured a €7.5 million (US$9 million) Series A funding round.
The investment was led by one of the world’s largest materials trading companies, Japan’s Itochu Corporation, along with private investors in the Americas and Farmer Connect founding partner, the Switzerland-based green coffee trading company Sucafina.
Launched in 2019 and based outside Geneva, Farmer Connect offers a blockchain-based traceability platform for coffee as it makes its way through the supply stream from producers to consumers. The blockchain-based tech being used was developed in part by IBM, based on the IBM Food Trust platform.
Farmer Connect pitches the platform as potentially beneficial to producer groups, who can verify their identities and transaction histories, thereby potentially receiving improved access to credit. However, the service is primarily pitched to larger actors farther down the supply stream who are seeking to digitize, verify and make more efficient their transaction data.
The Farmer Connect solution also has an app under the name “Thank My Farmer” that feeds users data and narratives about the coffees they’re consuming, while allowing them to donate to sustainability projects being led in various coffee-producing communities. The company says the app will soon introduce the ability for consumers to provide direct compensation to individual farmers, although no date for that launch has been set publicly.
The app was widely debuted in 2020 through a partnership between Farmer Connect and the J.M. Smucker-owned Folgers sub-brand 1850 Coffee.
In an announcement regarding how the $9 million will be put to use, Farmer Connect suggested it will be used to scale the business and develop new solutions for corporate sustainability efforts in coffee as well as other agricultural sectors.
“With this money we can capitalize on demand for sustainable, inclusive and efficient agriculture supply chains that benefit everyone, from farmers to consumers,” a letter attributed to “Team Farmer Connect” stated. “We will do this by continuing to develop new products and services specifically in ESG and SDG tracking. We can also fast track our plans to recruit specialists in sectors that impact small holder farmers, such as coffee, cocoa, tea, spices and fragrances. We will now start building new teams across the world in places like Geneva, New York City, Singapore and Brazil.”
Nick Brown is the editor of Daily Coffee News by Roast Magazine.