French Popcorn Company Nataïs Uses Blockchain for Digital Supply Chain Transparency

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With blockchain as a service from SAP and support from SAP Co-Innovation Lab, SAP partner STMS is helping French popcorn producer Nataïs digitalize its supply chain and provide transparency to consumers.

When the screen comes to life, most cinema-goers won’t pay much thought to the popcorn they’re munching on as long as it’s fresh. But as food safety becomes increasingly important to consumers, they may become interested in the exact route their food took before they bought it.

French popcorn producer Nataïs has answered this growing awareness by providing maximum transparency into its supply chain. Collaborating with SAP partner STMS, Nataïs chose to leverage blockchain to add traceability of its produce to the project of digitalizing its supply chain.

“Launching a project on blockchain technology would have been a big challenge without SAP Co-Innovation Lab,” says Xavier Ayral, managing director at STMS. “The team really helped us approach blockchain and made it easier for us.”

SAP Co-Innovation Lab supports SAP partners like STMS with know-how in new technologies, such as blockchain. By bringing the right people to the table, SAP Co-Innovation Lab helps partners provide customers with a solid proof of value and implement the new solution they created together.

“Nataïs, STMS, and SAP Co-Innovation Lab have been working together on the same target: to deliver popcorn traceability from farmer to consumer,” says Sébastien Faure, innovation director at STMS. “All of us were fully engaged on the project to make it happen.”

“Food safety is important,” explains Joey Bronner, blockchain engineer with SAP Co-Innovation Lab. “But sustainable agriculture is also becoming increasingly relevant to consumers. As a matter of fact, many consumers would like to know more about the farmers that grew their popcorn and the region where it comes from. They are also keen to understand if agroecological farming principles are guiding their practices and what it really means for them, as farmers.”

Blockchain as a distributed technology allows the secure sharing of trusted information across companies without one of the partners being able to manipulate the information. “Blockchain technology from SAP let us digitalize customers’ trust in our products with traceability information gathered from corn field to end customer,” says Michael Ehmann, founder and president of Nataïs.

Blockchain Co-Innovation Project for Sustainable Agriculture

Cinemas are not the only final customer of products from Nataïs; most of its corn is sold in supermarkets all over the world as microwaveable popcorn. Different varieties of maize are developed and cultivated to answer a diverse range of quality requirements and characteristics from Nataïs’ customers and farmers.

“The digitalization all along the supply chain makes the work of our farmers, employees, and transporters easier and reduces the risk of logistic errors,” says Ehmann. “Farmers will receive all the logistic information necessary to identify their corn delivery though a QR code. This same QR code will be used by the transporter when he delivers the truckload at Nataïs’ storage site. Corn quality, variety, weight delivery, originating field: All this information will be available through this QR code.”

A graphic that shows how the new solution is working
Blockchain and SAP Cloud Platform for full transparency (click to enlarge)

Blockchain allows the corn from the cinema to be traced all the way back to the farmer’s field — from harvest, transport, and factory processing to final delivery in cinemas and stores.

“Our customers will give the possibility to their consumers, by printing a QR code on their popcorn servings, to learn more about the origin of the popcorn, its quality characteristics as well as Nataïs’s corporate values,” says Emilie de Marchi, head of Development at Nataïs.

Partner Enablement for Customer Success

As a regional employer, Nataïs has been repeatedly recognized by FrenchFab, an initiative in France that honors home-grown companies that make an effort to keep jobs in the regions of France or bring them back there. Today, Nataïs provides 130 employees with jobs in the countryside of southwest France.

Two hundred and fifty farms within a 200-kilometer radius make up the corporation. As a popcorn producer, Nataïs is ranked first in Europe and third in the world, as it exports to other continents. The corn is sold under Nataïs’ own brand, Maison Popcorn, as well as under private labels or A-brands. But, the QR code works the same for all consumers. “Our distributors recognized the significant impact on our product offering and now ask to join the blockchain,” says de Marchi.

Ayral says, “It has been a great journey for Nataïs and the STMS team to explore blockchain technology with SAP Co-Innovation Lab. Now our customer knows they can lean on STMS to approach their innovation beyond ERP through SAP technologies.”

Miliau Pape, head of SAP Co-Innovation Lab Europe, was also pleased with the project that resulted in the first blockchain deal for SAP: “This is exactly the outcome we at SAP Co-Innovation Lab are aiming for — to enable our partners to address their customers’ problems by supporting them to produce innovative solutions.”

Top image via Nataïs

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