The blockchain is increasingly being utilized for storing and tracking of data across a wider spectrum of sectors, including the food supply chain.
A recent report by global market research company, Nielsen, has revealed that 75% of consumers cited the national origin of their food products as often more important than other factors, such as quality and price.
In the US, this has been a growing trend, particularly in terms of knowing whether foods present a risk to health through exploitative food practices and contamination. Enabling consumers to know specifics about a food’s origin presents opportunities for new technology to find ways of simplifying processes that can inform consumers.
The blockchain is fast becoming an ideal tool for supply chain management, in that the technology can provide detailed information about the food product’s journey through the supply chain, often through numerous countries.
BitcoinNews recently reported that French grocery super chain Carrefour had adopted exactly this blockchain methodology in order to track its chickens from egg to table. The plan was introduced in order to eradicate mislabelling and contamination, apart from giving consumers a more detailed description of their product.
In the US, another issue which blockchain is being used to address is the massive problem of wasted food. It is reported that roughly 50% of all produce grown in the US is simply thrown away and has now become the biggest component of landfills.
One issue is consumer conceptions about how food should look and how people deal with unusual features, such as the ‘imperfection’ of an oversized carrot, overly small banana or bruised apple; an issue that’s been addressed in the UK by some supermarkets packaging and marketing ‘weird fruit’ at competitive prices to great success.
Blockchain, in that it provides a transparent supply chain, has logistical applications to prevent waste as data on the blockchain can differentiate the factors which cause food to be thrown out. This helps producers to identify weak points in the supply chain and offer solutions.
Taking a step further than the UK, Russian startup INS Ecosystem uses blockchain tokens to help food producers and manufacturers connect directly with consumers. This encourages consumers to consider food products which would otherwise be wasted. The company has developed a decentralized consumer ecosystem that enables consumers to buy groceries directly from manufacturers at up to 30% lower prices.
In a recent development, US company FR8 Network, a tokenized blockchain marketplace for contracting, financing, and tracking of the supply chain industry, has solved the issue of damage and spoilage during transportation. Through tokens, ’empty miles’ are reduced by carriers by accessing blockchain job boards which help them to find a load for every leg of their journey.