Blockchain is seen as the next technological milestone. The blockchain has the potential to greatly simplify a wide range of market areas, applications, and processes. The blockchain-created trust can also be used successfully in the food industry. This involves, among other aspects, the transparency in food supply chains to reduce food fraud and, most importantly, to ensure food protection.
Consumers are becoming increasingly interested in the origin of their food and its sustainable and fair supply chains; we want to know where our food comes from. Products are adorned with various labels such as fair trade, organic, and so on. But, do they have any credibility? How do we know that the farmers who harvest our coffee beans are being fairly compensated and working in safe conditions? Or that the eggs we buy aren’t sourced from chickens crammed into a few square metres? How about the ingredients? Do the products contain all that we’ve been promised?
The solution is found on the blockchain
How does it work? Simply put: A blockchain is a type of cloud-based database that stores all data. This data can be exchanged between any number of parties. Producers, suppliers, wholesalers, retailers, logisticians, and customers have access to the same data and can trace it back to its source in real-time. Many vulnerabilities that cause problems in the supply chain can be addressed using blockchain. This not only saves money and time but also improves food safety. Consider bacterial-infected food, such as the E. coli outbreak in various vegetables. The blockchain has the potential to prevent the spread of such diseases in the future by tracking which farms or fields are affected and which are not. Because of the transparency in the supply chain, traceability can be carried out very easily and, more importantly, quickly.
We need to re-establish trust
There are numerous labels available, such as organic, fair trade, GMO-free, and fair animal husbandry. It can be difficult to keep track of all these labels as a consumer. How about the submissions? Often, only the bare minimum of requirements must be met in order to receive such a label. The organic label, in particular, has received a lot of criticism in recent years because many products are already allowed to use it even if only the bare minimum of criteria are met. Customers may gain renewed trust in products and their supply chain if blockchain technology would be used.
More transparency into a more sustainable world
However, we should not limit ourselves to using this brilliant technology in supermarkets. Restaurants, cafés, and fast food chains could use blockchain to provide their customers with an entirely new user experience – tracking! How cool would it be if we could pinpoint the origin of the tomato on our plate? Or, more specifically, which farmer harvested our vegetables?
Aside from the user experience, many in the food industry will hopefully find their way to a more sustainable world. Outside pressure, in the form of the possibility of such high transparency, could push many businesses to make their supply chains more sustainable. Why should the end consumer trust those who do not allow them to trace the food they buy or order down to the smallest detail when they have the option?
We have the opportunity to make our world a better place by implementing new technologies, we just have to start.