Analysis: What We Can Learn From Aveda’s Blockchain Vanilla Traceability Project
Improving traceability remains one of the thorniest challenges for many sustainability teams, even as consumers’ calls for more transparency into the makeup of products — and the labor practices associated with creating them — grow louder.
The social distancing requirements and travel restrictions in force since early 2020 aren’t making things any easier — in some cases, it’s impossible to perform the audits necessary for verifications of provenance. That’s prompting more companies to double down on alternatives that rely on information technology.
One project worth studying for inspiration is a vanilla traceability “pilot” in place at Aveda, the “plant-powered” hair care brand owned by The Estée Lauder Companies (ELC). The company uses the word pilot to describe the system — which uses mobile phones and QR codes to trace the journey from a cooperative of 450 smallholder farmers in Madagascar to LMR (Aveda’s fragrance partner in France) to Aveda’s manufacturing facility in Blaine, Minnesota. In reality, this is a massive undertaking that will affect more than 125 Aveda products by the spring (the company’s SKU count is close to 500). Almost 80 percent of the company’s vanilla supply comes from Madagascar.
Photo courtesy of Demonzeed.