It may seem like a far-off concept, with crypto currencies hogging most of the conversation, but blockchain is the next big step for supply chains to conquer.
Customer trust and profit
Companies now have the opportunity to create the highest level of transparency with instant access to data about their products’ origin, journey, and the hands it has been through from the earliest points of creation – leading to ultimate customer trust and profit.
The four main trends driving the development of blockchain in human food are sourcing, safety, sustainability and efficiency. However, it is only a short time before the pet industry will begin to implement them as well.
Consumer consciousness on where food is coming from is at an all-time high, especially with food fraud prevalent in every food product category, from honey to beef.
One example of a daily household item suffering from fraud is olive oil. It is estimated that 70% of the olive oil sold in the US is either counterfeited or adulterated. However, these falsified products are not only locally damaging to producers, but deadly for consumers as well. In 1981, counterfeit olive oil sold in Spain led to thousands of deaths, after the product was found to have been diluted with industrial grade-grape seed oil. And unfortunately, due to the lack of transparency in the olive oil supply chain, the authorities were unable to charge the guilty parties.
Highly valued products drive up prices and the risk of fake products entering the market. Customers have the right to a certification of origin and blockchain can ensure that customers get what they pay for.
The World Health Organization estimates that tainted food causes 600 million illnesses annually and 420,000 deaths. This is not only terrible for society, but also costly for businesses. Record keeping that is done on the blockchain is ‘tamper resistant’, meaning that data cannot be altered or deleted after it has been processed, thus improving safety by creating accountability and improving the ability to track contamination origins in half the time.
When a product is in the blockchain, each step of its life cycle is tracked by the places and hands it passes through. This is crucial for sectors like seafood, where blockchain would enable purchasers to see everything, from the initial weigh-in weight and the vessel number of the boat it was caught on, to the permit number the government issued to local fishers.
Companies bottom lines will also benefit from blockchain integration through less food waste, faster distribution, the elimination of costly recalls, and improved distribution overview.
Blockchain integration is inevitable and will bring benefits to both customers and companies. Innovative startups and some of the largest retailers in the world are already tackling it head on. Walmart, Carrefour and Auchan to name a few. Development in the slow-moving supply chain is happening and in the not so distant future we can all expect any product will be scannable at our local grocery store.