Blockchain for the Food Industry: Manufacturers and Retailers’ Dream for Tracking Transparency?

Blockchain has changed many industries, but it has had an especially strong impact upon the food industry. The technology makes it easier to know the exact source of one’s food and to track it along the supply chain – all the way to the customer. A few of the most popular companies that have adopted such technology include Carrefour and IBM Food Trust.

Greater Levels of Transparency and Tracking

For the consumer, it has become vastly important to understand where their product comes from. Auchan, a company based in France, has announced that it will implement blockchain technology to track the food supply in five countries, including Senegal, Spain, Portugal, and Italy. After making its announcement, the company implemented a 18-month trial in Vietnam, which has seen success.

The technology registers a product’s information at each point in the distribution process. For example, once a food source is removed from the ground and is prepared, the TE-FOOD’s blockchain records the origin. The food product is then delivered to a distribution plant and it is verified against the information already on the blockchain. According to the company’s press officer,

“This is a key point of the blockchain in a sector where data is a valuable resource. As [a] retailer, we cannot ask a producer or a supplier to give us the information without return.”

He added that blockchain-based technology has resolve significant issues, including the need for relevant supply-chain information. This way, suppliers must produce the information and remain honest in the process. Consumers are also pleased by the changes. Current studies show that they are looking for more ethical food producers and distributors.

Loyalty and Trading

Another stellar aspect of blockchain technology in the food industry is that it provides an automation aspect as well. The blockchain industry has already generated $5.6 trillion into the food market and it is looking to play a limited role in other areas as well. Further, four of the largest agricultural companies partnered recently to bring blockchain technology to the grain-trading process. The partnership’s press release states,

“Eliminating inefficiencies would lead to shorter document-processing times, reduced wait times and better end-to-end contracting visibility.”

A Trustless Technology?

Going forward, many are starting to question whether the technology is actually trustless. After all, if it isn’t, then there isn’t much point or purpose to relying on the technology. Some explain that the records can be misleading, they can be falsely registered, and there may be other issues at hand as well. According to a study by the National Farmer’s Union, fraud is a costly issue for the UK market. The study explained,

“Food fraud means the deliberate and intentional substitution, addition, tampering with or misrepresentation of food or ingredients or packaging at some stage of the product’s distribution cycle. It also means false or misleading statements made about a product for economic gain.”

At this point, right now it is time to look ahead and to consider how the technology will be implemented in light of its benefits and of course, it’s drawbacks.

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