When it comes to food, a growing number of consumers wish to have access to accurate information and have transparency on the origin of the production of the products they eat, to protect their own and their family’s health.
Supply chain traceability enables us to find out where a product comes from and follow its route across the entire processing and distribution chain. However, this is not an easy task as it involves many people and entities, often in different places around the world, thus increasing the complexity of administrative and regulatory procedures.
In such a complicated scenario, the Blockchain technology proves to be a real opportunity and solution within the supply chain digitalization.
What is Blockchain after all?
Blockchain is a technology used as a validation method for records and transactions. Unlike other technologies, the information contained in the document, generated by a blockchain, is inviolable and can be shared with all participants who use it. This means that all transactions that have been carried out within the blockchain are permanently and systematically recorded, with no possibility of changing these. The validation of a product’s historical transactions becomes highly transparent and reliable for all parties involved. In the supply chain, for instance, we are talking about producers, industries, distributors, retailers and end consumers.
In short, the Blockchain technology enables us to securely and transparently store and send information. The database created with this technology can be shared among different users, with no intermediaries, keeping a record of all exchanges between authorized users so that each one can verify the validity of all steps in the chain.
Traceability with Blockchain
Traceability is the ability to share the food history, going through all stages of its production chain – from farming to the end consumer. This way, a traceability system operating with blockchain technology enables supply chain participants to enter information into the network, in an identified and openly auditable way, generating additional trust in the traceability process. The inviolability of blockchain further increases the credibility of the system.
In the food industry, blockchain technology can accelerate the process of identifying the source of product contamination, as well as the origin of various elements in the food chain, besides mapping non-GMO products.
Therefore, in the new world economy, traceability is a synonym of greater control, reduction of errors, losses due to inaccuracy and production variances. Besides, with Blockchain technology, every traceability process is likely to create a positive impact, since it will allow a much quicker reaction, in case of emergency.
Blockchain technology can be adopted by any segment that uses digital platforms for information transactions. The Italian wine industry, for example, has been already using it through an application developed by DNV-GL called My StoryTM.
In addition, Carrefour Group has launched the first Blockchain in the food industry in Europe to ensure the traceability of its country chickens from Auvergne. Every step in the production, processing and storage of poultry is registered and constitutes an element in the Blockchain. It is safe, with personalized access to all levels of the chain* . The Group is also planning to use the technology in eight other lines of animal and vegetable products, such as eggs, cheese, milk, orange, tomato, salmon and ground beef steak.
Another success story is the partnership of Viant[i], the environmental organisation WWF, Sea Quest Fiji and TraSeable Solutions, launched in Fiji. Their goal is to track albacore tuna which is certified by the Marine Stewardship Council. The automatic identification system transmitters have been installed in their fishing vessels and operate continuously to track and monitor fishing activities. When the fish are captured, they receive a sensor that interacts with the AIS transponder, recording the exact time and location. This type of data allows them to confirm that they were caught in a place where fish stock is not overexploited** .BeefChain, on the other hand, is a blockchain company based in Wyoming (USA), that was founded by cattle farmers who wanted to know where the meat was being sold. The rancher centric platform tracks beef along the supply chain and allows cattle breeders to recover value from third-parties along the chain.
In conclusion, the various application possibilities of Blockchain technology have attracted the interest of several sectors and have been seen as very promising for ensuring greater traceability and safety for food supply chains.
[i] ConsenSys’ subsidiary focusing on supply chain traceability