Blockchain In The Food Supply Chain

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blockchain-in-food-supply-chain

Ever thought of where your food came from? Or if the person who harvested your coffee was paid a fair wage? These are some of the questions blockchain can help answer.

Today’s world has the consumer increasingly interested in where his food is coming from and how it’s packaged. A lot of people are changing their shopping habits based on this.

Blockchain is the technology that is enabling the tracking of production by consumer staples across complicated supply chains to give consumers the data they need for them to make informed choices.

Blockchain is essentially an online public ledger that creates permanent and unchangeable records of transactions. Transactions are linked and are time-stamped to make it impossible for alterations.

A Fair Supply Chain

The traceability feature offered by blockchain is invaluable, especially when untangling the supply chains associated with human rights abuses and illegal practices.

According to the Environmental Justice Foundation, illegal fishing accounts for 31% of catches worldwide. Now, the World Wildlife Fund is actively addressing issues through the blockchain traceability project. The group in January launched the OpenSc platform for the same purpose.

An electronic tag is fixed to each fish once it comes aboard a vessel and is automatically registered at the dock and processing facility. When the fish is packaged and sold, it gets a specific QR code.

Fair

Once the consumer buys it at the local market, they scan the code and have information about where the fish was caught, manufactured, processed, and even transported.

The World Wildlife Fund is using this data to focus on human rights abuses such as modern slavery and forced labor. The same data helps them learn about the working conditions of the staff in the supply chain.

According to Dermot O’Gorman, the CEO World Wildlife Fund, the tool is helping stamp out the slave trade. O’Gorman adds that the fund helps extend the practices to other commodities such as beef, paper, palm oil, and dairy.

Streamlining The Supply Chain

Digitizing the complex supply chains can be quite a task. Convincing farmers and fishermen to apply the technology at the source is the first huddle.

But O’Gorman says small producers are ready and interested in OpenSC because it assists in optimizing operations, reducing costs by eliminating bottlenecks and enabling accurate forecast on demand and supply.

Ramesh Gopinath, a leader in IBM Food Trust says blockchain has a significant impact on efficiency. He adds that if the information is shared along the supply chain, there is a substantial benefit on improved freshness to the consumer. Overall waste will also be reduced.

A report by Boston Consulting Group says that the adoption of digital supply chain tools could reduce food loss and misuse by $120 billion annually.

Trustworthy Supply Chains

Being traceable also means being accountable. Blockchain gives a tamper-proof guarantee of product origins.

It’s crucial for products where food fraud is prevalent such as palm oil. The European market has marked it a significant target for fraudulent activity.

Susan Testa of culinary innovation at Belucci says an Italian name doesn’t necessarily mean an Italian oil in the bottle. And that’s why Belucci is deploying blockchain by Oracle along its supply chain to prove provenance both for retailers and consumers.

People naturally want to know how close the product is to the source so they can feel good about the brand they are buying.

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