Although coffee’s supply chain has evolved over the years, much of the trade process (and subsequent challenges) remains the same. Fortunately, the coffee industry has entered an era with greater global access to technology and a deeper understanding of the industry’s systemic challenges. As a result, actors in coffee’s supply chain are better positioned to revitalize the industry when equipped with the right digital technology.
Today, technology such as CropConex’s end-to-end platform is helping to streamline supply chain processes through access to vital lot information, transparent communication between all stakeholders, and logistics management. Beyond being a convenient tool for managing complex supply chain processes, technology also acts as a long-term remedy to inefficiencies across the supply chain. Let’s explore how.
Reducing Supply Chain Inefficiencies Through Data Management
Access to data is only the beginning of a more traceable and transparent supply chain. The key to overcoming supply chain challenges is how the respective data is managed and utilized.
Supply chain inefficiencies can absorb up to 40% of a perishable product’s export value, accounting for over $700 billion of waste every year.
These inefficiencies are often the result of mismanaged information and siloed communication—or a complete lack of both. The complex nature of supply chain processes coupled with the growth of coffee consumption worldwide has left major inefficiencies in coffee’s value cycle unresolved.
However, technology such as CropConex is working to provide digital data management solutions to solve such inefficiencies.
CropConex’s software enables users to:
- Manage an entire network of cooperative members, producers, buyers, and suppliers
- Track coffee production and real-time status from harvest to delivery
- Monitor inventory stock and accurately create offer sheets based on existing inventory levels
- Document coffee quality for physical inspections and sensory analysis at various stages throughout the supply chain
- Compile and export lot, sample, and crop data through QR code labels
Through these digital tools, nearly all aspects of coffee’s supply chain can be managed, documented, and analyzed in a single environment. As a result, complex workflows are simplified and automated, actively reducing the possibility of cross-border obstacles each time the coffee changes hands.
Encouraging Seamless Communication
With much of coffee’s value cycle still requiring manual data collection and paper documentation, communication between parties becomes siloed. This leads to missing information that can derail coffee’s long journey to its final destination, causing detrimental issues for all involved.
Digitizing the supply chain promotes synchronous communication and builds trust between all parties.
Producers can speak with exporters, importers, and roasters about cup quality and pricing. Distributors can communicate with farmers about buyer expectations and needs. Roasters can inquire about upcoming lots by chatting directly with farmers and importing partners.
By communicating from the beginning of a coffee plant’s life cycle to the moment it’s brewed in a customer’s home, all those in coffee’s supply chain can use technology to work together toward a more economically sustainable and fair industry.
However, given the remote areas where coffee is grown, access to digital data collection and management resources can be limited. Rather than asking producers to bear more of the burden and adopt new (often expensive) technologies, tools such as CropConex were built to operate with limited network accessibility and without the requirement for smartphones. In addition, CropConex offers coffee data management features for free, reducing the financial barrier to adoption.
Improving Economic Equality Throughout the Supply Chain
The goal of alleviating inefficient supply processes, removing barriers to effective communication, and ensuring data transparency is ultimately to yield a greater return for all involved in coffee’s value cycle.
Supply chain inefficiencies are the primary obstacle preventing producers, exporters, importers, and roasters from realizing their goals. Rather than pitting one actor against another, digital tools such as CropConex can unify all parties toward a common objective: reducing the monetary impact of supply chain inefficiencies and redistributing value to producers.
The purpose of introducing new technologies into the supply chain is to ensure that those who work long and hard to grow and harvest coffee receive proper compensation for their efforts. Through data transparency and management available on CropConex, all parties can review a coffee’s transaction history and work together to provide value for producers.
In the final installment of our three-part series, we’ll explore the revolutionary long-term impacts digital technology can have on the coffee industry and supply chain.