… and blockchain will tell you where it comes from!
As a consumer myself, it is crucial for me to know where my food comes from.
I’m in the supermarket, I look at the country of origin of my fruit, I look at nutritional information.. and then, back during this summer, I found out the eggs I bought may be contaminated by an insecticide harmful to human health (abnormalities, seizures and death…) and no-one knew how, when and why! The news made a whole scandal out of it. 15 EU countries were affected, the ones responsible for the use of the insecticide were arrested after an exhaustive investigation, eggs were pulled off shelves in supermarkets, farms shut down…
Each egg actually carries a serial number, as to identify where it came from. But no-one actually looks at it or knows how to interpret it until something bad has already happened, as it was the case this summer…
The IT systems across Europe were not integrated. Despite the highly interlinked agricultural sectors, none of the first countries touched actually notified the incidents to the European Commission’s Rapid Alert System for food and feed, designed to allow food safety agencies to coordinate. Everything was delayed in terms of interventions across Europe.
So our question is…How can we avoid something like this to happen again?
We believe blockchain could have been the solution. All entities involved in the supply chain, from the hen house to the supermarket shelf, could have access to the egg’s journey and paperwork including all serial numbers, from the day the chicken it came from was born and fed, to the day the customer buys the egg.
Consumers expect cost effectiveness, friendly service, but first of all, safety.
Indeed, “Food products are guilty until proven innocent” (WalMart).
Today SCM is done wrong: using paper or systems that don’t communicate with each other.
Blockchain has the capability to pinpoint with certainty by the minute which product could be implicated in putting the safety of consumers at risk.
Blockchain will allow different segments of the food system to capture information about the product and be integrated with each other. All info will lead to insights to make the food system better.
More than traceability, transparency will be achieved: blockchain will allow to track where food came from and how it was produced (sustainability matters). This will also allow increased customers’ trust in supermarkets and brands while proving authenticity through transparency. It will also save incredible amounts of time and money for companies, as the amount of paperwork and time along the egg’s journey will be greatly reduced. Trust will be increased as no single entity owns the provenance information and will be accessible by each stakeholder in the supply chain. SCM will also be more efficient as you can recall only the defected eggs and diagnose the contamination faster across companies and countries.
Blockchain has the ability to improve the food system and more importantly, to make its stakeholders more responsible.
We think transparency will encourage a higher quality of the products.
An example of a successful use of blockchain in a supply chain is Walmart story, thanks to a collaboration with IBM.
And I will give you some food for thought: what if blockchain used IoT to gather other type of information to include in the blockchain ledger, let’s say temperatures at which your food was exposed? What if all the blockchain information combined with IoT and the health sector could help determine how to prevent your grandmother from getting food poisoning and other illnesses due to what you eat?
You don’t have to tell me what you eat, blockchain will tell you.
MiM Candidate at IE Business School & Bachelor of Commerce Graduate at McGill University
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