A Swiss crop-trading blockchain startup has piloted the use of technology that will allow grain to be traded using virtual tokens.
Cerealia SA created a non-fungible token backed by 30,000 metric tons of Mexican white corn, according to Filipe Pohlmann Gonzaga, chief operating officer of the Pully, Switzerland-based company. The token was issued by Mercanta for grain stored at the Triple T terminal, both owned by Mexico’s Grupo Ceres.
Token deals could help eliminate paperwork and costs associated with many grain transactions that take place over the counter. Trade houses and other grain holders can issue tokens for their supply, which would then be traded on Cerealia’s blockchain platform without the need for physical documents that still underpin the bulk of commodity deals.
“The token can be easily traded,” Pohlmann said in a phone interview. “It also opens up trading to other players including hedge funds, banks and other investors.”
Cerealia’s platform, which has attracted offers and buying interest for about 6 million tons of grain since its launch in November, currently supports only bilateral deals between physical grain traders. The next step is to start a system that allows financial institutions and speculators to take part without having to take physical delivery of the grain, he said.
Blockchain startups have mushroomed in agriculture markets as companies seek to cut costs and boost efficiency. The technology also offers greater transparency in supply chains as consumers become more interested in where their food comes from. Crop giants including Bunge Ltd., Cargill Inc. and Viterra have teamed up to start their own ledger system Covantis SA.
Cerealia started off with grain deals in the Black Sea region, but has expanded to markets including Brazil and Egypt. The company, also present in Ukraine, will soon have a representative in Singapore and is targeting sub-Saharan Africa next. It has clients in almost 30 countries, with the latest Mexican deal helping to broaden its reach, Chief Executive Officer Andrei Grigorov said.