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5 Benefits of Blockchain in Food Supply Chains

Food safety is a top concern for consumers, and blockchain can streamline supply chain processes. In a recent E coli outbreak, Walmart was able to trace the contaminated leafy greens back to their suppliers in seconds using blockchain.

This technology also helps eliminate middlemen in the food industry. This reduces the chances of fraud and enables farmers to sell their products more easily.

1. Transparency

Blockchain allows all stakeholders in the food supply chain to view and access a transparent, immutable record of transactions. This increases transparency, efficiency and sustainability while reducing costs.

This transparency makes it easy for companies to comply with regulatory requirements in real time. It also gives them the ability to find the source of a food safety issue far sooner- potentially saving lives in some cases.

Some companies, such as Nestle and Unilever, have already begun implementing blockchain technology into their food supply chains. Nestle, for example, uses IBM’s Food Trust system to track its Mousline puree and Zoegas coffee brands from farm to fork. This enables consumers to see exactly where the products originated and who planted them. It also saves employees the time and effort of manually checking and documenting product data.

2. Security

When the food system is digitised, data is stored on a blockchain platform (Figure 1). All the information including the details of the food product from its provider to the retailer is maintained as immutable records. This ensures transparency and security.

The information is updated at almost real-time rates which improves transparency and food quality monitoring. It also reduces product recalls and improves the sustainability of the supply chain.

Moreover, the smart contracts on the blockchain enable faster payment mechanisms for farmers without taking a large chunk of their earnings from them. This disintermediation can make the whole process more cost efficient. The blockchain is also more secure as it ensures tamper resistance and authenticity of the data by making it transparent to its participants.

3. Automation

The food industry is faced with urgent issues like food fraud, safety recalls, and supply chain inefficiencies. Blockchain can help solve these problems by providing a shared record of transactions that is transparent, secure, and tamper-resistant.

For example, Bumble Bee Foods records its yellowfin tuna operations on a blockchain to improve traceability and deter fraud. Consumers can view information such as the origin of the tuna, the fishing community that caught it, and whether or not it is fair-trade.

This also enables the food industry to comply with financial regulations in real-time. As a result, this can reduce lead times and increase productivity. It can even reduce the number of inspections a shipment undergoes, which can save time and money. Moreover, it can also increase sales and premium pricing due to enhanced consumer trust and authenticity.

4. Flexibility

Blockchain technology is a distributed information system that creates shared and immutable ledgers on business networks (Hastig and Sodhi 2020). It provides transparent, reliable, secure, and tamper resistant supply chain data.

This can help companies reduce costs through reduced manual processes, disintermediation and increased supply chain efficiency. It also allows for a more accurate match of supply and demand.

Consumers are increasingly concerned about where their food is grown and how it is processed. Blockchain can provide a new level of transparency to meet these demands and build trust with consumers.

For example, Bumble Bee Foods records its yellowfin tuna operations on a blockchain, allowing customers to see the fish’s journey from farm to store. This makes it easier to verify claims about the fish, such as that it’s sustainably caught and fair-trade.

5. Speed

With its transparent and immutable record of transactions, blockchain allows for rapid traceability. This is a key feature of supply chain management, as it ensures that companies are able to respond quickly to any food safety issues or recalls.

This is especially important in the case of contaminated food, as it can help to identify the source and prevent further contamination of other products. It can also reduce food waste by enabling stakeholders to monitor and manage spoilage throughout the supply chain.

This also helps to increase accountability for suppliers and manufacturers, as it is much more difficult to cover up mistakes in a transparent supply chain. It can lead to better compliance with food safety regulations and more sustainable food production. This can ultimately help to improve consumer satisfaction and boost brand loyalty.

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