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An optimal and sustainable trade of grains

A system enabling farmers to trade grains through a neutral online marketplace that guarantees payment and certifies grains by quality

Photo of Jacob Morén
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Written by

Lead Applicant Organization Name

Skira AB

Lead Applicant Organization Type

  • Small company (under 50 employees)

Website of Legally Registered Entity

www.skira.se

How long have you / your team been working on this Vision?

  • 1-3 years

Lead Applicant: In what city or town are you located?

Stockholm

Lead Applicant: In what country are you located?

Sweden

Your Selected Place: what’s the name of the Place you’re developing a Vision for?

Östra Götalands County of 9 979 km² and neighboring county Västra Götalands County of 16 694 km². Total area of 26673 km².

What country is your selected Place located in?

Sweden

Describe your relationship to the place you’ve selected.

Skira's founders are all brought up on a farm in the selected area, experiencing how untransparent and unfair the grain market is. The area of Östergötland and Västra Götaland is made up of 25% farmland and 5.5% of its population work with farming in some way. As 'everyone knows a farmer' the community wants to support locally produced food, but the full supply chain doesn't allow for transparency of the full distribution line.

Having all been studying M.Sc. Engineering at Linköping University, the largest city in the region, we at Skira want to bring our knowledge and skills from various M.Sc. Engineering fields, especially computer engineering, into the agricultural industry and give back to the area.

Describe the People and Place: Provide information that would be helpful for an outsider who has never been there and may have no context about this Place to better understand the area.

We see many different stakeholders affected by the untransparent grain trading system we have today in the region.
- The farmer cultivating the grain; is proud of the history of the area and his/her profession. It can be both a conventional farmer as well as a fully licensed organic farmer and all in between. Some have animals but many focus on selling grains. They all run their own companies whilst doing 1000s of various tasks. Their margins are becoming smaller and smaller. They struggle to find new sales channels and sell to their close neighbors or to large companies with big storage silos. The majority need to sell their grains directly after harvest, as they can't dry nor store it in a safe manner.

- Farmers with animals: Are constantly looking for good quality feed for their animals. They are very squeezed as they buy grains where the big seller sets the price and deliver meat and/or dairy where the big buyer sets the price. Their animals are part of this area, keeping the fields open. Today the rate of bankruptcy is alarmingly high. Only the big farms survive.

- Industry and Mills: On the expense of the farmers, the large industry players has grown big and now have a lot of control of the market. They are both buyers of grains and sellers of feed, so they set the price. The people of the area previously cherished having a few big companies in the area providing stability and work. As the companies grew bigger they lost touch with the community, they lost agility and now have too much overhead cost which has created a very unfair system where they are cutting corners on traceability and the localness of the region.

Consumers: There is a huge movement in the area to support thy local farmer. This area has been the backbone of Swedish farming and people want to monetarily show gratitude for that, but how to do so? In an optimal food distribution-chain, information can flow between producer to consumers, meaning that the producer can adjust the product at a high rate according to the buyer’s demand. This is however prevented on today’s distribution line.

What is the approximate size of your Place, in square kilometers? (New question, not required)

26673

What is the estimated population (current 2020) in your Place?

1800000

Challenges: Describe the current (2020) and the future (2050) challenges that your food system faces.

Currently, the grain market is an oligopoly with a few big middleman-players and many small buyers and sellers. In an optimal food distribution-chain, information can flow between producer to consumer, meaning that the producer can adjust the product at a high rate according to the buyer’s demand. This is however prevented on today’s distribution line. With an upcoming need for traceable, locally produced and zero waste food, this is a big blocker. There is really no transparency in today’s market.

Sellers, which are farmers, waste a lot of time finding out: to whom, to what price and when they should I sell their grains?

On the other hand, buyers such as other farmers with animals, traders, mills, and industries have questions like:  Where do I find the right product that fits my need? Will the quality be as good as promised? And how can we optimize our buying process?

- It's untransparent and undemocratic.

- Culture is slowly dying where more and more small farmers are filing bankruptcy.

- The big players sit with all the data and have a big technological advantage on the small farmers.

- The big middle man set the regulatory/policy regarding the quality of the grains. This means that we're creating a suboptimal one-size-fit-all grain quality where the system is not utilizing straight and simple supply and demand market economy dynamics. The system can't handle cases where a buyer can buy a certain quality outside the norm even though there are sellers with that quality.

The future challenges are of a different sort;
Both producers and sellers must take responsibility for the quality of their business.

Creating a transparent food distribution chain starts, for us, in the beginning of the chain. We must, however, get the consumers on board and all the stakeholders in between to follow us in our ambition. Food producers and retailers have to be included in a full circle system.

Our ambition starts with the selected area but the overall challenge can be extrapolated to the whole nation and even the whole of Europe.


Address the Challenges: Describe how your Vision will address the challenges described in the previous question.

Creating an optimal and sustainable trade of grains is hard, but we're well on our way. We have created a digital platform to simplify the trade of grains for all parties on the grain market. We're connecting all the information that is currently vague or lost on a platform 

Where buyers for the first time can;

- browse through unique qualities that sellers have in stock.

- visualize their demand and ask producing farmers to sell to them.

- compare prices and see locations. 

And sellers can for the first time;

- make sure that they get the right price for their specific product.

- Sell to new buyers via a new sales channel.

In our end-to-end service which cherishes farm-to-farm trade;

- We secure the payment so that sellers can feel sure that they will get paid

- We certify the quality of the sold grain through laboratories so that buyers know what they buy and then only pay for the quality that they receive.

- We minimize transportations distances and order transportation. This is a key factor. No longer does the grain have to travel far distances to a middle man for storage and handling.

- On top of all this, we’re building insights tools that we incorporate into our platform for maximum engagement and to bridge information gaps between buyer and seller. We provide both parts with index prices per grain so that all can make informed and data-driven decisions. We also take in a lot of different kinds of data both from farmers but especially regarding the land and wheater and by machine learning, we predict the Swedish harvest volumes both much earlier and better than ever before. This is crucial data for all parts of the trade.

All we build is with the user experience of a farmer in mind; it needs to be intuitive, neutral and give a good personalized overview.

This all drives transparency and this is what consumers want. Longer down the line consumers can, with their money, show what type of farming they support and actively buy locally produced food.

High Level Vision: With these challenges addressed, now provide a high level description of how the Place and the lives of its People will be different than they are now.

We want to create a transparent food distribution system, an optimal and sustainable trade of grains with more power for all the stakeholders that add value to the system.

So producers, buyers, industry players and consumers can follow the information needed to make their decisions.

The more people join the better it will be - we will source grains with minimal transportation distances and put the right grain and the right quality where it belongs in the distribution chain.




Full Vision: How do you describe your Vision for a regenerative and nourishing food future for your Place and People for 2050?

We are creating a new data-driven behavior in the agricultural industry. This by enabling an optimal and sustainable trade of grains which we believe is the very root of the food system and where a systematic change must happen.

Currently, the grain market is an oligopoly with a few big middleman-players and many small buyers and sellers. In an optimal food distribution-chain, information can flow between producer to consumer, meaning that the producer can adjust the product at a high rate according to the buyer’s demand. This is however prevented on today’s distribution line. With an upcoming need for traceable, locally produced and zero waste food, this is a big blocker. There is really no transparency in today’s market.

Sellers, which are farmers, waste a lot of time finding out: to whom, to what price and when they should I sell their grains?

On the other hand, buyers such as other farmers with animals, traders, mills, and industries have questions like:  Where do I find the right product that fits my need? Will the quality be as good as promised? And how can we optimize our buying process?

- It's untransparent and undemocratic.

- Culture is slowly dying where more and more small farmers are filing bankruptcy.

- The big players sit with all the data and have a big technological advantage on the small farmers.

- The big middle man set the regulatory/policy regarding the quality of the grains. This means that we're creating a suboptimal one-size-fit-all grain quality where the system is not utilizing straight and simple supply and demand market economy dynamics. The system can't handle cases where a buyer can buy a certain quality outside the norm even though there are sellers with that quality.

Creating an optimal and sustainable trade of grains is hard, but we're well on our way. We have created a digital platform to simplify the trade of grains for all parties on the grain market. We're connecting all the information that is currently vague or lost on a platform 

Where buyers for the first time can;

- browse through unique qualities that sellers have in stock.

- visualize their demand and ask producing farmers to sell to them.

- compare prices and see locations. 

And sellers can for the first time;

- make sure that they get the right price for their specific product.

- Sell to new buyers via a new sales channel.

In our end-to-end service which cherishes farm-to-farm trade;

- We secure the payment so that sellers can feel sure that they will get paid

- We certify the quality of the sold grain through laboratories so that buyers know what they buy and then only pay for the quality that they receive.

- We minimize transportations distances and order transportation. This is a key factor. No longer does the grain have to travel far distances to a middle man for storage and handling.

- On top of all this, we’re building insights tools that we incorporate into our platform for maximum engagement and to bridge information gaps between buyer and seller. We provide both parts with index prices per grain so that all can make informed and data-driven decisions. We also take in a lot of different kinds of data both from farmers but especially regarding the land and wheater and by machine learning, we predict the Swedish harvest volumes both much earlier and better than ever before. This is crucial data for all parts of the trade.

All we build is with the user experience of a farmer in mind; it needs to be intuitive, neutral and give a good personalized overview.

This all drives transparency and this is what consumers want and should demand. Longer down the line consumers can, with their money, show what type of farming they support and actively buy locally produced food. This way we can, by enabling technology and breaking the current supply-chain, diversify the type of farmers we have in the area and continue to have a rich society in economical, cultural and environmental aspects. 

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Spam
Photo of Andrea Vaz-König
Team

Hi Jacob! Welcome to the Food Systems Vision Prize! We look forward to deep dive into your vision! All the best!

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