Fresh Produce Trade App by Green Projects

green-projectsGreen Projects SA was founded in 2006 and is delivering innovative services in the field of scientific management, business intelligence and new technologies, by providing high-level consulting services and developing innovative products and software solutions addressing the Greek and international market.
Its main vision is to provide sustainability-driven technology & innovation solutions, taking into account social, environmental and economic parameters. Green Projects is staffed by engineers, economists, legal advisors and consultants, with extensive professional experience in planning and implementing challenging and complex projects.
In 2013 it decided to try to disrupt the Β2Βfresh produce trade by introducing an innovative mechanism implementing holistic logistics and quality approaches and supported by a web platform to fully support all procedures from farm to shelf. Through FINISH, Green Projects is implementing this project.

What is the idea behind your project within FInish?

What we offer is a holistic mechanism which we call «Kalaθos», using the Fresh Produce Trade App which is developed within FINISH. Kalaθos aims to facilitate online business-to-business collaboration (B2B) between producers and traders concerning the exports of vast quantities of fresh products. The operation of the mechanism will support agricultural cooperatives, groups of producers and specialized brokers in facilitating the entire range of transactions, including offer making, request for offer, order, sales contract, electronic invoicing, export accompanying documentation, logistics shipment tracking, even payment procedures.
By focusing on the specific products of each producer, Kalaθos will create the appropriate environment for a unique placement opportunity of quality products in a European and even global market. Producers may take advantage of a market with no borders in order to achieve better prices, partially due to the reduction of the intervention of middlemen, while on the other hand traders may explore new markets with products of higher added-value. Furthermore, the rigorous procedures supported by the mechanism would lead to the development of a whole network of trust in which the producer receives fair price for good quality products and the traders receive the agreed products in time, with the minimum administrative burden. This network of trust will also be further strengthened by the involvement of local Facilitators which will act as trusted third parties which will monitor and certify the quality of the selling products.

 

What are the aspects of «Kalaθos»?

The heart of Kalaθos will be its web based platform, Fresh Produce Trade App. Besides the operation-all aspect of supporting the everyday transaction in the agricultural trade, this innovative on-line platform will support the strategic design of producers by dealing with the production and analysis of statistical data concerning prices in relation to product characteristics, to time period, to weather conditions, to competition aspects, to geopolitical situations, etc.
Kalaθos will support the process of search, coordination, negotiation and settlement by implementing the following steps: pre-negotiation, negotiation and contract implementation, to reflect the nature of the trading market for perishable agricultural products.
Kalaθos will act as a “Multi-sided Platform” which will bring together and provide each party with net-work benefits two groups of customers-users, namely sellers (farmers, group of farmers, collectives, packing facilities, brokers) and buyers (wholesalers, central markets, supermarkets) in a transparent way. The end-users/Customers of Kalaθos will be also our key Partners by declaring their specific needs which should be met, as well as by entering all the necessary information. They will also act as the evaluators of the application on a continuous basis leading to its continuous evolvement.

 

What are the main benefits for your customers?

Future clients may appreciate a lot of benefits, which span from the platform itself, Kalaθos, and its related services. The product description based on UNECE standards gives detailed information on several levels covering all requirements using a global language.  The creation and publication of offers and/or requests of vast quantities of fresh produce satisfies in a better way need and demand at an international level for the whole range of fresh produce. The Quality assurance system from seeding to shelf (producers, packagers and transporters will implement “Kalaθos quality system”), makes possible to assure in a documented way the quality promised. The provision of an interactive tool for order negotiations allows to save time following a simple and structured procedure. Moreover, it keeps the process transparent and documented for afterwards analysis. The contract execution monitoring allows to be aware of the actual implementation of the contract’s stages till the delivery of the last shipment of each contract and the transfer of all payments. The logistics monitoring schedules the shipments, tracks the actual transports and reports any deviations as soon as possible to provide enough time for appropriate action. The Facilitators are the trust builders of Kalaθos: they are there, next to the product, all the time to organise, to support, to track, to check, to provide documented evidences to the buyer and even to the consumer. The analysis tool for market prices and demand provides valuable historical data in a structured and user friendly way to support planning for future sales and buys.

What challenges answer your innovative idea?

The sector of fresh agricultural products (mainly fruits & vegetables) suffers from some structural deficiencies: there is a persistent mistrust between sellers and buyers of perishable agricultural products, because of the price structure of most deals and the extreme tension during the negotiation process; there is a deficiency of innovative IT systems which can provide efficient integrated services (from e-auction to logistics) to the “agri-fresh” sector; there is a profound ambiguity of prices throughout the whole supply chain; there is lack of a full-path tracing of the product for the consumer (from the farm to the shelf); there is no real-time analysis of the supply & demand; there is a limited opportunity to create new products (or to revive traditional varieties of fruits & vegetables) driven by consumer demand.
Those needs now fulfilled constitute the Value Proposition (VP) of Green Projects SA.
At the same time, potential end-users currently experience some unresolved pains and longings which include: there are no platforms around the world that tackle the aforementioned issues in an holistic way; there are no transparent rules concerning the price building of the fresh products; there is no trust between growers and middlemen or wholesalers, due to the previous point; there is a lack of actual provision of real-time information concerning tracking and monitoring of fresh produce logistics; the promised quality is poorly documented and not actually assured.
Green Projects SA covers a Unique Selling Proposition (USP) :
• Being always next to the product for our customers, using our local Facilitators, providing services as a third-trusted party for quality and logistics issues
• Implement transparent trading processes
• Providing documented quality assurance
• Providing full path tracing information starting from seed/plant.
• Allow continuous tracking of every product from farm to wholesaler’s premises using state of the art information and automation technologies
• Sell not only unique products but also valuable information for these products

 

Is there any special story which has inspired you?

Actually, the story begun almost two and half years ago, when the owners of Green Projects SA, Eleni and Nikos, along with Tasos, their IT collaborator for more than a decade, saw an opportunity in the agro-food sector.
During discussions with executives of big fruits and vegetables wholesalers based in Germany we realized that the international trade market of fresh produce it is not at all a case of intensive use of innovative IT infrastructure for supporting processes such as matching offer – demand, buying, tracking transports, assuring quality, monitoring of transactions, etc. On the contrary the procedures of this specific market almost exclusively on face-to-face communication as well on the use of telephone and fax in order to transfer information about the availability of the products, their quality, their price and other relevant issues. The typical sales process starts with the collection of prices for a given product and different quantity pricing levels. As the process unfolds, a negotiation process is developed regarding the quantity, quality and price. This “classic” approach has resulted in a highly fragmented and inefficient market. It is obvious that the procedures that are being implemented along the fresh-produce trade chain are quite incomplete.
These initial talks led us to further discussions with experts in the field of agro-food trading sector and to an extensive review over the internet trying to get more insights on the subject. This whole search showed that B2B platforms specialized in agricultural products are very rare. Some few online platforms have been developed to facilitate the operation of agricultural commodity exchanges in Africa, Asia and Latin. Nevertheless, the main focus in these commodity exchanges is placed on the price of agricultural products that are fungible, which means that each unit of a commodity is exactly like every other unit. However, the market of perishable agricultural products, such as fresh fruits and vegetables has to deal not only with vast quantities of the same product, but also with differentiated products with variations in quality, taste and even marketing, i.e. trade names.
So, we decided to try to disrupt the Β2Βfresh produce trade by introducing an innovative mechanism implementing holistic logistics and quality approaches and supported by a web platform fully support all procedures from farm to self. This mechanism should put the focus on the specific products of each producer and it should create the appropriate environment for a unique placement opportunity of quality products in a European and even global market. The producers should be given chances to operate in a market with no borders in order to achieve better prices, partially due to the increasing of transparency concerning the determination of the price, while on the other hand the traders could explore new markets with products of greater added value. Furthermore, through this mechanism the procedures would be part of a network of trust in which producers receive fair prices for good quality products and the traders receive the agreed products in time, with the minimum administrative burden. This network of trust should be based on continuous monitoring along the supply chain, as well as, on quality assurance of the selling products. The overall expected result would be that through this mechanism the producer will start acting as price maker and not as price taker, while on the other hand the wholesaler would receive not only the fresh product but also a valuable package of information allowing the full-path tracing of each product.
The effort began. We joined our experience and knowledge in the re-engineering field and in building complex workflow IT platforms and we formed a team of 10 highly educated developers, analysts, managers, experts (logistics, quality etc.), who are extensively experienced in implementing demanding projects with high technical complexity.

 

What will your project look like by 2020?

By 2020, Kalaθos platform by Green Projects SA will be one of the reference tools & related services in the global agro-food industry which generates several billion euro per year. Millions of consumers around the world when they will see the Kalaθos trade mark on their fruits and vegetables they will fill confided about the quality that they choose. Furthermore, they will be aware that Kalaθos has changed once and for all the experience when consuming fresh fruits and vegetables.

 

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