How blockchain technology is fostering transparency in the food supply chain
In a modern landscape marked by escalating concerns regarding food safety, supply chain transparency and sustainability, the integration of blockchain technology into the food & wine industry is revolutionizing traceability and enhancing consumer trust. So, how blockchain is transforming food traceability, its benefits, challenges and its adoption in the food industry and wine industry? Let’s explore this revolution and how it’s reshaping the agri-food industry.
How companies are using blockchain for food traceability?
Blockchain is simply an alternative internet known for being a more reliable source and storage of data. Being a decentralized system, a blockchain network ensures users that no single authority could take ownership on a specific set of data without getting the original owner’s permission. Each transaction is saved in a specific block, thus forming an unalterable chain of information.
This enables companies to trace the origin, processing and distribution of each lot of their food products.
More and more companies in the goods consumption industry are leveraging blockchain technology to establish a reliable and transparent traceability system in the food industry. For instance, food and beverage companies can securely record data related to every step of their food supply chain journey in a decentralized storage making data immutable and preserving its integrity.
With its decentralized and secure nature blockchain technology is revolutionizing the agri-food sector by providing an efficient framework for traceability. Companies can implement blockchain for food traceability by creating a blockchain-based platform that records critical data points throughout the production and distribution process, as it is a powerful tool that ensures information transparency, addressing issues like food fraud, greenwashing, product authenticity and food safety. When production data is collected on the supply chain management platform powered by blockchain, each member of the supply chain, from suppliers to distributors, takes responsibility in adding trusted and reliable information about their work. This way it becomes simpler to monitor in real-time when and how a mistake or a malicious attempt has incurred within the ecosystem.
Blockchain Adoption for Traceability in Food Supply Chain Networks
The adoption of blockchain for traceability in food supply chain networks is steadily increasing.
Companies in the food and wine industry are embracing the transformative power of blockchain technology, recognizing its potential to establish a robust and transparent ecosystem. Wines digital product passports, powered by blockchain, provide a secure and immutable record of a wine’s journey, accessible to stakeholders throughout the supply chain. This unprecedented level of transparency promotes greater collaboration, reduces the risk of fraud, and ultimately ensures the authenticity, safety, and quality of wines. As consumers gain access to this wealth of information, they can make informed choices, confident in the provenance and integrity of the wines they choose. This enhanced transparency fosters trust, confidence, and satisfaction among wine enthusiasts, elevating their connection to the wines they enjoy.
How Blockchain Benefits the Food Industry
Blockchain technology alone cannot guarantee product traceability. It must be integrated with other technologies to ensure comprehensive traceability as it is primarily used in the data recording, management, and transmission phases of the traceability process. While blockchain ensures data immutability, it doesn’t verify data veracity. To address this, blockchain-based applications are increasingly being integrated with technologies like IoT, meaning devices connected to the internet enabling real-time automated data collection for enhanced traceability.
Blockchain and IoT combined offer numerous advantages to the food industry: it enhances transparency and consumer confidence by creating an unchangeable record of a product’s entire journey from its raw material provenance to the retailer. It enables quicker and more accurate responses to food safety issues, thereby reducing potential health hazards. One of the first use cases has been enabled by Walmart’s attempt to utilize blockchain for a more efficient product batch recall. Upon receiving reports of potential contamination, Walmart can leverage blockchain immutable record-keeping to swiftly trace the affected product back to its source. This granular level of traceability allows to identify specific batches and distribution routes and immediately initiate a targeted recall, limiting the scope to only the contaminated product. This approach minimizes disruption to the supply chain and reduces unnecessary waste of unaffected products.
Additionally, blockchain-based traceability supports sustainable agriculture initiatives by encouraging responsible sourcing and waste reduction.
A great example is represented by Vegea, an innovative Italian company, transforming wine waste into a sustainable and versatile material called “wine leather.” The company addresses the environmental impact of winemaking by upcycling grape marc, the leftover skins, seeds, and stalks from wine production, into a valuable textile resource, thus aligning with the growing demand for ethical and sustainable fashion. Moreover, its production process is significantly more environmentally friendly, utilizing waste materials and reducing reliance on resource-intensive animal agriculture.
As adoption continues to grow, blockchain is poised to become an indispensable tool for better ESG reporting and to ensure food safety, supply chain transparency, and to promote circular economy and more ethical work environments.