Can Blockchain Provide Foodstuffs with a CV?

Are the cherries in this ice cream organic? Was the palm oil in this skin cream produced in a sustainable way? These days, consumers want to know where products are manufactured, as well as how and by whom. Almost seamless transparency is now possible thanks to Blockchain technology.

Anyone who looks at the label on a bottle of wine in the supermarket has grown accustomed to vague information on its origins. A vineyard somewhere in Bordeaux? Sounds good. However, Blockchain, a technology previously known for its use with the encrypted digital currency bitcoin, will soon be providing considerably more transparency. With the assistance of the Food Supply Chain, an infinitely scalable digital database, both wholesalers and retailers can make encrypted and highly detailed information on product manufacturing and supply chains available online.

Complete record of the production and supply chain

The food chain management system used these days by wholesalers and retailers entails an elaborate process that already documents the entire value chain for food and other products - from production through transport and processing to final consumption. Now Blockchain technology can help improve the digitisation process for this management system and at the same time make all the relevant information accessible to the customer. In the future, a quick glance at your smartphone while contemplating buying a bottle of wine should be all it takes to find out all you need to know. What kind of seeds and fertilizer were used in the cultivation of the vines? How was the wine produced? And what distances were involved in the transportation from vine to supermarket shelf?

High-tech sensors and IoT assist in the recording process

Any products documented via the Food Supply Chain software are assigned individual digital codes by means of a decentralised online database. High-tech sensors and various Internet of Things applications ensure that all the relevant processes along the production and supply chain are seamlessly recorded. Digital experts agree that using Blockchain technology in wholesale and retail is a more efficient and cost-effective solution than current methods such as RFID tagging, and it is also far more secure. Consumers, meanwhile, stand to benefit from further positive and lasting effects besides a more or less comprehensive transparency of production. For instance, the Food Supply Chain is also expected to help producers forecast the demand for foodstuffs more accurately so that surplus production and therefore waste can be avoided. The result is a win-win situation for both manufacturer and consumer.

Blockchain infographic

What is a Blockchain?

A Blockchain is a decentralised database that is generally accessible online and can be used by multiple parties. It is fed with encrypted blocks of information that are joined together like the wagons of a goods train. Every block contains a check code from the preceding block so that the information is verified automatically and individually assigned. This continually reconciled database does away with the need for a trusted authority – such as a bank in the case of financial transactions – for the confidential exchange of information.