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Becoming Supply Chain Savvy

Senior Engagement Manager

It could be assumed that a soil carbon measurement technology would be most attractive to farmers, however, it is apparent that the entire supply chain needs to be addressed and connected, otherwise an opportunity might be missed.

When planning market outreach for a company there are three important things to consider.

  1. Who is the end-user of your product
  2. Where do they fit into the supply chain and what level will you target
  3. Who is the correct contact at those target companies

These learnings became apparent when engaging the market for a soil carbon measurement technology. This technology is used at the farm level, but in order to accelerate the company’s commercialisation journey, RIG needed to target the large companies, or the ‘game changers’ at the top of the food and beverage (F&B) supply chain. This meant mapping out the supply chain for the F&B industry and aligning our outreach to the key players within it.


Finding the right point in the supply chain

In some industries, the supply chain is short and closely connected, and the top players have a direct relationship with the lower end of the supply chain. This was most often the case within the dairy industry, which has an interconnected supply chain and good traceability of products back to farms. This supply chain structure allowed us to target the ‘game changers’ with the confidence that they had the relationship to implement the soil carbon measurement opportunity to their suppliers.

Often however, those at the top of the tree had little contact with their farm suppliers. This was particularly clear in the beverages industry where there are many middlemen between the farmers and the retailers (e.g. grain merchants and malsters), who prepare grain to be used in beer and whiskey production and are direct suppliers to the large beverage companies. We found that rather than engaging directly with a brewer, who did not have close relationships with their farm suppliers, it was more effective to target the companies that supply a brewer with the malt used in the production of their alcoholic drinks.


Finding the technology ‘champion’

Not only is it important to understand the players who are involved in the supply chain, but also to find the person within a company who has the correct supply chain relationships. When targeting a company and an individual within that company to contact for a particular opportunity, it is crucial that the individual is close enough to the issue to move the opportunity forward. The person who seems like the perfect contact may not in fact be aligned with the stage of the supply chain that is relevant to the opportunity you are commercialising.

When targeting large companies at the top of the supply chain, such as a large supermarket or brewer, often the obvious contact to reach out to is the sustainability lead or employee that has been given the task of reducing carbon emissions. We found, however, that this person often does not have a direct relationship with the farmers involved in the supply chain and is therefore unable to implement the soil carbon opportunity within their business. In these instances, it is far more effective to contact the person in charge of agricultural sourcing.


Overall, we found that it was essential to map out where the technology fits into the supply chain and who the key players are in the surrounding industry. From this, it is then easier to determine which level of the supply chain to target and identify contacts with roles that align with where the technology fits into the supply chain. This is key to accelerating conversations and creating the first deals in a company’s commercialisation journey.