Can Blockchain Be Applied as a Solution for Integrity in the Seafood Supply Chain?
Seafood fraud is a big issue in the food service industry. In fact, nearly a third of all seafood products that consumers are able to purchase do not have the same thing that it claims. With limited regulation in this industry, there is no real way to estimate how many millions of dollars are lost each year as the result of price suppression and lost profits. Along with the loss of revenue, consumers are put at risk for infections, allergic reactions, and stomach irritation with all of this tampering and lack of information.
Right now, there are multiple companies and organizations that are seeking to wipe out this fraud, which occurs between the supply chain and even the treatment of employees. The entire oceanic ecosystem can be thrown off course, which means that conservationists have a stake in this preservation as well.
One company that is making strides is Sea To Table, who is one of the largest and most trusted suppliers of seafood. They started by purchasing their fish from local fisherman, selling directly to the customer with no supply chain at all. They earned a place as one of the most trusted options for seafood, earning a significant following. Unfortunately, the Associated Press recently accused them of the exact fraudulent schemes that they have been fighting against, based on the use of the terms “local” and “wild caught.”
For this reason, the seafood industry may be able to turn to the use of blockchain. There are multiple companies in favor of this transparent solution, though they are still trying to figure out how to use it. Distributed Ledger Technology (DLT) would have a substantial benefit, considering the immutability that it holds. Anything that happens on this type of ledger would remain on it for the whole time the blockchain is active, and any person in the network would have access.
There are many companies that are already involved in blockchain individually, like the recent changes to IBM, which is better known as Big Blue. They have been in an innovative company with global logistics supply changes, and they have used it for food traceability as well. They were involved in the collaboration between Big Blue, Walmart, and JD.com, which developed the Blockchain Food Safety Alliance. This is just a testimony of the fact that the use of blockchain for following seafood from the sea to the plate is just as possible, and every consumer can see the origins of the food that they eat. Furthermore, since the blockchain cannot be altered, there is no risk of fraud.
VeChain and HyperLedger are both improving supply chain management with their different sensors, which have included RFID (Radio Frequency Identification), NFC (Near Field Contact) sensors, and QR codes. HyperLedger has specifically been working on a separate project called Sawtooth, specifically working on sustainable fishing solutions.
Despite looking for solutions for integrity amongst the fraud in this industry, there are many companies that are still trying to make a difference in their own businesses. Consumers can look for QR codes on their canned tuna and other seafood to check the entire path it took before being mixed into a sandwich or a seafood medley.