Manage traceability

When we understand something, we can improve it. That is why having traceable supply chains is crucial to sourcing responsible produce. 


Managing Traceability Commitments

Manage change through transparency and traceability by:

- Ensuring responsibility in our supply chains

Supply chain management is at the core of ECOM’s activities as a commodities trader. But with many farmers living in remote areas with reduced access to tools and resources, responsible practices can sometimes come second to simply reaching markets for produce.

In addition to geographical remoteness, the complexity of the supply chain poses challenges, with many different intermediaries at each point along the chain. Traceability is a vital tool in helping us achieve chain oversight – ECOM is working with every actor in the supply chain to digitise every step of the products’ journey.

Together with new technologies and our commitment to certification, the Group is continuing to achieve greater visibility of our activities, even across the most complex and indirect supply chains.

Areas for strategic focus

Transparency is key

To ensure ethical, sustainable and socially responsible practices across our supply chains in coffee, cocoa and cotton, we work in partnership with national and local governments, NGOs, development banks and other partners to develop new technologies and strengthen farmer skills. We also use the latest academic research from institutions around the world, drawing on their knowledge to formulate solutions to problems in the commodity sector.

What this means in practice


In our cocoa division, specific traceability targets will help us achieve our goal of knowing that every bean we source has been done so responsibly. By the end of 2023, we’re committed to 100% traceability for beans purchased directly from origin-sourced supply chains, with a similar goal for partner-sourced beans by the end of 2025.


Alongside certifications such as Rainforest Alliance and Fairtrade, ECOM offers suppliers its own verifications: SMS Verified and SMS Diamond Verified, managed through the SMS Code. This programme, established in 2012, goes beyond traditional certification systems. It’s centred around the continued betterment of farmers’ production through high value-added technical feedback. Farmers are required to undergo a meticulous audit before achieving either the SMS or SMS Diamond verifications, both of which are recognised by the Global Coffee Platform under their new equivalence mechanism as Coffee Sustainability Reference Code Equivalent 2nd party assured.


The cotton supply chain is long and complex. To achieve our goals of transparency, traceability and trust, ECOM invests financially in partnerships such as USDA's Partnerships for Climate-Smart Commodities and, in Brazil, the Beneficiadora de Aloadao Cotton 163. By working together, we can expand and progress the market for climate-smart cotton in an economically sustainable way and collectively build a more transparent, resilient and environmentally responsible cotton value chain.

Knowing where your product comes from

As with all our commodities, ECOM’s dedication to traceability in cocoa starts at the source.

We can only change what we know. Traceability is a vital tool in our kit for enhancing supply chain oversight and ensuring ECOM, our partners and customers feel confident about where their product comes from and how it’s processed.

What this means in practice

End-to-end traceability in cocoa

We have achieved 96% traceability to the community for beans purchased from origin-sourced supply chains. A similar 2025 goal for partner-sourced beans will bring greater visibility of our activities and assurance that every bean we purchase has been sourced responsibly. Our own sustainability efforts are enhanced by major certification standards within our supply chain, with added assurance and transparency from programmes including Rainforest Alliance, Fairtrade International and Fairtrade USA and organic standards (EU, National Organic Programme and Bio Suisse).


Having end-to-end traceability in coffee is a challenge due to its complex supply chain. However, with the use of technology and the support from clients through their sustainability commitments, we are able to have improved insight and increased traceability. While working with supply chain partners, ECOM has implemented several technological solutions to enable the collection of information during the first stage of the coffee journey. Traceability works both ways, which is why ECOM has also worked with local actors and businesses who play a key role in connecting farmers to supply chains to implement these solutions. Through our service delivery procedures, we are able to have transparency over the products journey, connecting this to the rest of the supply chain via new platforms and solutions.


As of 2021, we can generalise cotton traceability to most of our deliveries and, through our pilots, we are constantly improving, adapting and adding more detail. In one of these, the Blue Seed programme, we have been able to trace a luxurious, extra-long fibre produced with less water from start to finish: from seed developer, to farmer, service provider and factory, and finally to high-end branded jeans in a Milan concept store.

Keeping pace through digitisation

As the world changes and society’s demands evolve, technological innovation is the key to realising sustainable agriculture and financially empowering our farmers.

To bridge the information gap, in 2013 SMS created SMS integrity (SMSi), a digital platform first designed to collate farmer information and provide services and products tailored to their unique needs. Today, the tool is in use by over 350,000 farmers across 16 countries in multiple commodities.

What this means in practice


ECOM cocoa has extended the SMS integrity (SMSi) programme from collecting farmer information to mapping land. Data collection has been automated for field staff, with over 340k polygons (maps that digitally represent geographic data for irregularly shaped areas) and more than 430k hectares mapped to date. Across the chain, from grower to chocolate maker, this helps achieve a more transparent end-to-end process.


Digitisation of our supply chain is essential to coffee sustainability ambitions. Leveraging our network of field teams, ECOM has implemented SMS integrity (SMSi), a sustainability data collection and analysis tool. With offline data abilities, SMSi penetrates the remote coffee landscapes and enables field technicians to provide direct feedback to producers as their latest farm data is consolidated in ready to use reports and insights, optimising the impact of field visits. Digitisation enables clients to access key insights into supply chains and projects implemented through ECOM’s sustainability teams. Providing access to dashboards and data visualisation important for reporting and communication.


ECOM is working with every actor in the supply chain to digitise every step of the cotton journey. In addition to our own SMS integrity (SMSi) versatile platform, we are also working with some modular traceability systems that combine digital and physical that analyse data and generate reports.