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Member Spotlight: Trade in Space

By January 18, 2023No Comments

British Coffee Association - Tradeinspace

Profile:

In short, Trade in Space helps coffee companies visualise the sustainability of their supply chain. We’re a technology company based in the UK, we use satellite images to derive data on coffee farms, much of our focus has been on helping companies prepare for the incoming EU deforestation legislation, but we do much more than deforestation! We use our tools to support ESG analysis/reporting, and measure and monitor sustainability metrics on farm land and support companies to meet their corporate sustainability goals.

First ever satellite brokered coffee trade

While coffee has now become our main vertical, we actually started out as a start-up looking at South Australian Grains – proving that we could use satellite imagery to map fields, predict yields and so on.  We partnered with a Brazilian coffee producer and developed one of the most accurate coffee detection algorithms available commercially. We are now also working with cacao producers in Colombia logging and tracking their entire supply chain.

We’ve found our niche helping clients discover the possibilities of using innovative technology solutions to drive positive actions in their supply chain.

What are you working on at the moment?

BCA Quote

With support from the European Space Agency, we’re just finishing up a project which involved the development of a mobile app to help bring traceability to the farm level, and throughout the supply chain. A customer came to us with the problem that they were unable to trace their produce beyond the co-operative to the individual farmer. Our app, called DigiTrak is now in final stages of field trials.

Field trials of traceability app

We’re also currently preparing for the new European Union Green Deal legislation which sees additional due diligence requirements on importers to prove deforestation free origins. We’ve been helping some customers prepare their supply chains for the changes, by putting in place due diligence policies and monitoring.

As technology developers we don’t sit still for long, so we’re always looking at new ways to innovate on our existing products and to add value to our clients; at the core of our development is sustainability, remote sensing and smart contracts.

What are the main issues/priorities?

Like everyone, we’ve been keeping a close eye on announcements from the EU regarding the deforestation changes. The recent announcements have caused an increase in calls to our team; it’s a challenge for everyone within the supply chain. We’ve been working hard to understand the implications of the legislation to ensure we’re fully informed to support our clients through the transition to compliance. Our key bit of advice is to prepare early to avoid getting caught out.

One of the biggest technological challenges we have is connectivity. So many farms are in remote areas with little access to 4G, or Wi-Fi, so we’ve made contact with collaborators who specialise in bringing satellite communications to remote communities.

We are inspired to keep routes to market open for smallholder coffee farmers and the supply chain operators they work with. We want our platform to be accessible to all supporters of sustainable procurement.

What’s the biggest success story so far and what inspires you?

Requirements gathering in Colombia

We’ve had a few company-highlights so far, the biggest is procuring the world’s first space traded coffee, with the help of Dear Green Coffee in Glasgow.

2022 was probably our most exciting year so far, we got to travel to rural Colombia to implement field trials of our technology with a really great bunch of farmers. The team who remained in the UK were just as excited to watch as the data started and microlots started to make their way from farm through the supply chain.

What’s a day in the life at Trade in Space?

We start out with a team stand up, and address our priorities for the day. From then on, there isn’t really a typical day for us, we could be working with a client to define their requirements, or taking part in a workshop to keep up to date with market trends. We sit within the coffee sector, and also space tech, so we’re often participating at Space Data events, to help promote what’s possible with this type of technology. There is a lot of R&D focus within our team which extends beyond just our technical team, we’ll discuss problems our clients are facing and brainstorm solutions.

From a business development point of view, a lot of our current conversations with coffee companies are about how we can help them prepare for the EU regs, and any other potential changes which might come in to the UK and Europe.

The global nature of the coffee market means we’re often travelling, we visit clients throughout the UK, EU, US and LATAM, and we’ll also be at more tradeshows this year.

Why did you decide to join BCA and what’s the most useful thing about being a Member?

We’ve been serving coffee companies for years and joining the BCA has really given us the opportunity to understand the barriers and challenges faced by coffee producers at a new level.

We’ve had the opportunity to participate at events as peers. We’ve joined the Sustainability Committee, which is where we think we can add the most value to the community.

Most importantly, being a BCA member has given us the opportunity to be part of meaningful discussions which impact the industry.

What do you love most about the coffee industry, and what advice would you give to someone who wants to enter your field?

Coffee is such a fascinating industry, it’s so varied, and in a similar way to the Space industry, you don’t really appreciate how encompassing it is until you’re in it!

The things we love most about coffee is that despite the huge diversity in origins (how much more different could Rwanda be from Brazil?) coffee seems to drive community, whether its family farming, or co-operatives, or a local coffee shop.  It’s a “people” industry.

Sustainimaps on a screen

Our advice to those thinking about joining the coffee industry is to take advantage of the opportunity to travel off the beaten path! And, get some additional languages under your belt – not just spoken languages, software development and data science are core to what we do. Python is a great fundamental to start your tech journey from!

 

 

Our thanks to all at Trade in Space.