Having already found its place in the financial industry, blockchain technology is making its way toward implementation in various spheres amidst government warnings. Though cryptocurrencies sometimes arouse suspicion, blockchain technology offers a huge number of solutions that can be applied to the market.
As a decentralized platform for transparent, secure payments, blockchain can reduce bureaucracy, disable bribery, and cut prices in numerous areas. Even more important, it can eliminate third parties in all spheres of human activity. It is believed that blockchain technology will change the food industry forever by providing an open network for sharing information on products. Data on any product will be accessible to anyone in the network.
The world is concerned about the shortage of possibilities for food quality checks that depend fully upon third parties and merchants. The food industry can avoid constant concern about the quality of food by implementing blockchain technology within the supply chain.
Why Blockchain Will Save the Food Industry
Over the last year, the world has experienced several buzzy food scandals: fake eggs in China, luminous meat in Australia, and blown-up watermelons. These and many other incidents wouldn’t have happened if people had known what they were buying and the origin of the product.
According to research released by the World Health Organization, one in every 10 people are affected by foodborne diseases, and some cases have proven fatal.
In fact, a lot of people have minor health issues caused by “dirty food” or junk food, which, if not addressed, can lead to bigger problems.
And there are more reasons for enhancing traceability and transparency in the food industry:
- Research done by The Guardian indicated that 38 percent of food sold in supermarkets didn’t offer full information on product origin. This can easily result in health damage to the buyer, and damage the seller’s reputation as a result.
- Research conducted by PwC and the Safe and Secure Approaches in Field Environments (SSAFE) showed that $40 billion annually is lost to the problem of counterfeit products around the world.
- Recent Oceana research stated that food falsification causes $25 billion in losses each year.
- In 2006, Escherichia coli in spinach resulted in three fatal cases and caused illness in 400 people in the U.S..
- In 2013, the famous horsemeat scandal in the U.K. made people think twice about the products they buy and eat.
It is extremely helpful to know where food poisoning usually comes from:
Nowadays, consumers consider product origin and what it consists of more carefully, which forces the food industry to reveal full information on the products. This is a weak spot in the food industry that can be solved sensibly by blockchain technology.
The Blockchain Solution for the Food Industry
Currently, the international food supply chain is getting more and more complex. Consumers expect to have quality food, but suppliers are facing factors that hinder their attempts to meet customer needs:
- protection from falsified products
- supply-chain improvement
- growing demand for quality and full information on the product
- better establishment of communication between supply-chain participants
If every party participating in food production added data to the distributed ledger, it would build rapport with the supplier and increase trust in the quality of the product.
Blockchain technology is a distributed network that guarantees secure service due to the absence of third party participation. Moreover, when any information is added to the blockchain, it cannot be changed or deleted. This allows tracking of the product’s current state, location, expiration date, who is selling it, and/or who has already bought it.
Let’s consider how, exactly, blockchain technology will help track information on food. Whenever a buyer wants to check a product’s origin, expiration date, etc., they will enter the identification number listed on the package, and that’s it: production history from A to Z is revealed. Any identification number that doesn’t exist in the ledger will be verified as a falsified product.
Walmart Adopts Blockchain for Quality Products
In 2017, Walmart, the retail giant in the U.S. food industry, announced the application of a blockchain-based tool: “Smart Package.” This technology tracks a package’s contents, location, environmental conditions, and more. According to the technical information given on this device, it will record the private key of the seller, courier, and buyer on the blockchain.
“Smart Package” is not the first blockchain implementation by Walmart. In 2016, Walmart and IBM became partners to create a blockchain-based tool in order to identify and remove recalled goods from their product list.
Blockchain technology has become quite successful with supply and delivery companies, and suggests a variety of solutions to existing problems on the market.
The modern supply-chain market faces issues with traceability and transparency in the goods supply process. If people had the opportunity to get information on product origin and expiration date in real time, this would enhance customer trust and confidence. This level of excellence can be reached the food industry by involving all participants in the supply chain in the process of providing data on goods to the distributed ledger. Blockchain technology seems to have the necessary characteristics to solve trust and food security issues.