Crypto-Food and Blockchain - Do you believe?

cryptofood article
18
Apr

Crypto-Food and Blockchain - Do you believe?

18.04.18

In the words of the so called “crypto-spruikers” out there, an economic revolution is coming and its in the form of blockchain.

A blockchain is a decentralized, distributed and public digital ledger that is used to record transactions across many computers so that the record cannot be altered retroactively without the alteration of all subsequent blocks and the collusion of the network.  In other words is a multiple independent recording of events ensuring consistency.

Unlike the traditional methods of recording data in isolation blockchains exist across different computers that speak to one another and verify the transfer information added along the line and creates a blockchain.

Currently the main perception of blockchain is the bitcoin phenomenon.  If one is to look beyond the cryptocurrency craze, the true benefit of blockchain technology starts to unveil itself among a variety of industries, especially within the food and hospitality sector.

As society becomes more conscious of what they consume, major players such as Coles and Woolworths, will start using this technology along the supply chain to raise standards and link themselves to the transparency chain.

The ability to track transactions from “producer to plate” has the power to improve supply chain management and help retailers and food producers build trust with consumers.  At first glance there are four areas that a blockchain system could directly assist the food and hospitality industry:

  • Improving transparency for consumers - Simply scanning a QR code attached to food packaging, via smartphones customers can receive a complete history of their food’s journey all the way back to the farm where it was grown.

  • Helping to improve food safety - Thinking back to the recent rock melon listeria outbreak, if blockchain technology had been in place retailers could quickly isolate the risk of contaminated stock by simply tracing the source of the outbreak in a matter of seconds and reduce food wastage.

  • Prevention of food fraud – Incorrect labelling of products eg - horse meat being sold as beef is one example of food fraud that comes to mind in recent years. Blockchain technology can quickly pinpoint where along the chain a fraudulent change was made. It operates anonymously, therefore errors or discrepancies in the block chain can be traceable to specific distributors or producers along the chain and exposing them. Food retailers will know that when they claim to sell any product, there is definitive proof, and they can substantiate this along a chain all the way from farm to their shelves.
  • Faster and more equitable payments to suppliers along the food chain  - Greater transparency along the supply chain could assist farmers to sell more stock quickly and be properly compensated because of readily available and verifiable market data.

The use of blockchain technology could identify and prevent price coercion from those further down the supply chain, and eliminate excessive transaction fees charged by the so called “middleman”.

A new generation of savvy consumers are increasingly dictating to food producers and retailers about the future of the food industry.

The ability for consumers to access blockchains through QR codes on products has the power to further enhance customer loyalty and transparency. This will also enable quality retailers and food producers to truly substantiate their food marketing promises to consumers.

Blockchain technology represents a change that may well result in that extra competitive edge over their rivals in an ever saturated and evolving food and hospitality space.