How blockchain disrupts the food industry?

By: Rebecca Clinton-Floyed

20, May, 2019

Categories:

Blockchain -

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It is a known fact that one-third of the food produced all over the world goes to waste every year, which is roughly about 1.3b tonnes. [1] One can surely imagine how dire the situation is.

Nevertheless, food is constantly being grown, processed, and shipped worldwide to cater the ever-growing population – which is in fact not at all an easy process due to many reasons. Finding data on the origin of food items is one of those reasons, as one can never tell if they were processed properly or in a fraudulent manner.

Deceitful activities are widely spread across the food industry and have become a major problem overall. There are cases wherein spurious food items are passed off as genuine ones. For instance, these days majority of sellers pass off inorganic food products as organic or sell food that includes additives and are not even bothered to disclose the exact composition of those substances.

IBM has a solution for these problems.

The global tech giant believes that blockchain has the ability to solve all those issues with its distributed ledger characteristics of transparency, immutability and easy accessibility. Moreover, it can also reduce the cost of average product recall by up to 80%, if the technology is deployed across the entire food supply chain management.

Today, major corporations have started realising the importance of blockchain and are looking for ways to incorporate the technology to tackle the aforementioned problems. Interestingly, IBM is one of those large corporations that have collaborated with retail chain Walmart, and other organisations like Nestle, Unilever, Kroger, McCormick and Co, Tyson Foods, et al.

The blockchain technology could offer a valuable support in many areas of the food industry by replacing current practices and technologies. Food traceability is one such potential area where blockchain will play a vital role.

Blockchain’s ability to save data in a decentralised cloud database, in an audit-proof format, allows exchange of information in a legally compliant manner between the involved participants, like traders to producers, wholesalers, logisticians, retailers and customers. Every transaction that has taken place between these parties can be traced transparently in real-time. Since the same data record is shared by all the members, they can refer to it whenever they want.

Blockchain can also be used to remove weak points in today’s supply chain, such as missing information or inconsistency, or issues with the interface while exchanging the date.

Data on the origin of the food products, production data, minimum sell-by dates, records on cold chain and lot numbers are all stored in the blockchain, which assists in sorting of final products and helps in identifying the contaminated lot quickly.

Blockchain was first used in the UK food industry in 2018.

The trial was successfully conducted by the country’s Food Safety Authority (FSA) on a slaughterhouse, which usually involves multiple layers of regulatory compliance. This blockchain pilot project helped both the FSA and the slaughterhouse gain transparency on the data. Moreover, the farmers supplying animals to the slaughterhouse also got access to the data about the animals on their farm. [2]

Italian firm Genuine Way uses blockchain to solve food-related issues. The company basically uses B2B marketplace to communicate with Italian food sellers via Ethereum smart contracts, which help the sellers and distributors verify their food on the platform. Customers can view the origin of these products with the help of a QR code so that they are not duped by fake products. [3]

The entire food sector has to work together to solve the ongoing issues within the industry. Partnering with tech firms that provide blockchain-based solutions is the only solution for food companies to build and retain a bond with the end point of the supply chain.

References:

[1] – http://www.fao.org/save-food/resources/keyfindings/en/

[2] – https://cryptodisrupt.com/uk-trial-blockchain-in-the-food-industry/

[3] – https://cagrvalue.com/walmart-ibm-blockchain-disrupt-food-supply-chain/

Other sources:

https://www.dwf.law/blockchainretail_food

https://www.foodmanufacture.co.uk/Article/2018/08/24/Food-disrupted-by-blockchain

https://food-blog.csb.com/us-en/hype-or-disruption-what-the-block-chain-means-for-the-food-industry

https://theconversation.com/how-blockchain-technology-could-transform-the-food-industry-89348