Blockchain Basics 9 – Food Supply Chain Applications

Blockchain Basics 9 – Food Supply Chain Applications

Tracking the Origins of Our Food

Trusting In What We Eat

The World Health Organization estimates that almost one in ten people all over the world becomes ill every year from eating contaminated food. 420,000 people even die as a result. The growing complexity of our global food supply has made tracking the place of origin or earliest known history of food products almost impossible. So what can be done to add trust to what we eat? Blockchain holds the answer. 

Today, consumers hold higher expectations of restauranteurs and trend markets in the enforcement of the “farm to fork” movement. This entails tracking the journey of a product from harvest to table or grocery shelf. Thus, the demand of the hour is traceability. So, what better way to accomplish this monumental task than to unleash the immense potential of the blockchain? Transparency inside our food chain is critical for building consumer trust. The blockchain ecosystem is thriving, and its applicability to agri-food is evident.  

Fraud in the Supply Chain

The food industry is a target of food fraud, estimated to cost up to $40 billion annually. Correspondingly, Wal-Mart and International Business Machines Corp are developing blockchain ledger technology. Nestle SA and Dole Food Co. are not far behind. Source Certain International from Australia and Hoan Vu from Vietnam are two labs that focus on verifying the integrity of food supplies. They have joined forces with a blockchain infrastructure provided by OriginTrail.

The main objective is to introduce globally-recognized GS1 industry standards for improved supply chain transparency and trust. Bureau Veritas has launched a traceability label to give consumers better insight into a product’s journey using Origin. Origin is a QR code produced through blockchain technology . Consumers use it to access product information using a mobile app for more informed purchases. Origin is also paving the way for recall management in real time, enabling a brand to better preserve its reputation.  

Serialized Identifiers

From the moment a sample is taken from a batch of goods at a farm or factory, GS1 standards are used to apply a serialized identifier to the sample recorded on a ledger. This identifier maps out the process within the lab, then follows the food through forensic testing, preparation, packaging, transportation, delivery, receipt, shelving, and purchase. The ledger provides layers of never-before traceable and provable information, such as whether or not the product was actually organic, grain fed, or pesticide-free.

According to Bloomberg Technology, the blockchain and its distributed ledger technology may drastically lower transaction costs for food companies, improve efficiency, and create new business opportunities, suggesting firms should explore options to adapt to the new technology or risk losing their competitive edge.

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