Investors back global online market-place for ethical green farmers

A woman collects strawberries at a farm in Thailand. (Reuters)
Updated 20 November 2019

Investors back global online market-place for ethical green farmers


 KUALA LUMPUR: A former investment banker has raised more than $10 million to expand a startup that helps developing-nation farmers using green and ethical methods to earn more by linking them directly with food buyers around the world.

After a decade investing in commodity markets at Deutsche Bank and Korea Investment Corporation, Hoshik Shin set up online marketplace Tridge in 2015 to build a network of sustainable producers and link them to buyers at home and abroad.

Food sold on Tridge includes peppermint leaves from Egypt, peanuts farmed in Nigeria and mangoes grown in India and Thailand. “At the moment, suppliers in emerging countries are so restricted to just meeting local buyers,” said the South Korean entrepreneur, whose venture secured $10.5 million this month from investors to bolster the business.

“Through our platform, they can meet foreign buyers more easily ... prices will improve and that gives bigger benefits to both farmers and their employees,” Shin told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

Tridge users include the world’s largest retailer Walmart Inc and French supermarket chain Carrefour, said Shin.

Globally, consumers and retailers are demanding more information about the goods they source, buy and eat, to make sure their production and transportation does not damage the environment, or use illegal and unethical business practices.

In response, manufacturers of household brands, restaurants and other businesses are seeking to attract more customers by offering products guaranteed free of deforestation or slave labour, for example. Earlier this year, conservation group WWF launched a website that harnesses blockchain technology allowing users to scan a QR code on a product or menu revealing its full history and supply chain.

Seoul-based Tridge makes use of artificial intelligence, data and algorithms, and has about 80 employees in 40 countries verifying that suppliers are trustworthy and ethical.

Food sellers on the platform, who are based in about 150 countries, can cut out middlemen and traders along the supply chain, who often take a cut and push up prices.

“The buyers get cheaper sourcing, and the supplier can get a better selling price,” said Shin.

Once linked, producers and their customers can do business away from the website, with suppliers paying Tridge for the connection.


German economy stagnating despite signs of industrial rebound

Updated 16 December 2019

German economy stagnating despite signs of industrial rebound

  • Indicators at the start of the fourth quarter point to subdued private consumption even though disposable incomes continue to rise
  • Bundesbank says households’ real disposable income fell due to a slowdown in employment growth

BERLIN: The German economy is more or less stagnating, the economy ministry said on Monday, adding there are initial signs that an industrial recession could be coming to an end as orders stabilize.
The ministry also said in its monthly report that indicators at the start of the fourth quarter pointed to subdued private consumption even though disposable incomes continued to rise.
Consumption has helped keep Europe’s biggest economy humming by compensating for weak exports. Trade tensions this year pushed the German manufacturing sector into a recession but the overall economy narrowly escaped the same fate.
“Industrial production has probably not reached the trough,” the ministry said. “But orders and sales have stabilized at a low level. This suggests that industry has gradually stabilized and could pick up slightly in the New Year.”
There are fears that should the manufacturing sector continue to shrink; the slowdown could spread to an otherwise resilient services sector.
IHS Markit’s flash composite Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) for December on Monday confirmed the diverging trends: manufacturing activity slipped and services rose.
Markit said the rate of decline in new orders and exports was stabilizing, giving hope for the manufacturing sector.
The German central bank said last week that Germany faced another sluggish year despite a likely rebound in exports as households see their spending power shrink. The Bundesbank said households’ real disposable income fell due to a slowdown in employment growth.
It trimmed its growth forecast for this year to 0.5 percent and halved its prediction for 2020 to 0.6 percent.
In another grim sign for the economy, the BGA trade association said on Monday that wholesalers planned to cut investments and their tendency to hire new staff had decreased despite expectations that their nominal revenue will rise by 2.3 percent to €1.3 billion this year.