Blockchain for Food: how it can change the food industry?
Blockchain is quite an impressive technology with a lot of potential in different spheres of life and industry. Since we are living in a digital era, change is expected. An efficient technology in this era will be ever-changing and solve problems.
Blockchain is such a technology. Blockchain has been noticed to cover many areas, as its application is wide and beneficial. Its application covers business and administrative areas, and this article focuses on the food industry.
It is no surprise that many food industries are using Blockchain technology to improve their activities in the food industry. Its role includes the secure handling and storage of administrative records and digital authentication, which aims at strengthening intellectual property rights and patent systems.
Blockchain is being used in this industry to improve traceability, deter fraud, and improve responses to contamination and related foodborne illness.
There is much to know about Blockchain and its application in the food industry. This article will examine all you need to know about Blockchain for food, how it works, and how it can change the food industry.
What is Blockchain technology, and how does it work?
In understanding Blockchain for food, it is important to examine what Blockchain is and how it works. So this brings us to the definition of Blockchain technology. What is Blockchain technology?
Blockchain refers to a digital distributed ledger primarily maintained by a coordinated network of multiple computing machines. It is a technology that saves data in the form of blocks. These blocks are cryptographically secured and generally immutable. Some of the basic features of Blockchain include:
Unlike the traditional internet system we are familiar with. Blockchain does not use a single server where information is stored. Instead, these data are saved as different copies on different computers. These are known as nodes in Blockchain terms. With this technique, there is no exact central authority supervising the storage of the information. The computers are connected to a general Blockchain network. As a result of the distributed copies of data (also known as transactions), Blockchain is said to be a distributed ledger.
Trustless in nature
When we say Blockchain is trustless, it shouldn’t be understood as ‘ not trustworthy.’ Instead, it should be interpreted as transparent and trustworthy. This is because Blockchain technology provides a transparent environment for transactions. This way, the need for a third party to mediate or initiate trust between the two parties involved in a transaction is eliminated.
This feature is similar to the feature of being trustless. However, it is sometimes mistaken for violating the privacy, but this is not so. The identities of both parties involved in a transaction are basically hidden via complex cryptography. So, their identity is represented by their public address, which is in the form of a code. Blockchain technology ensures that the identities of both parties are secure. At the same time, the transactions are made accessible through a public address, also in the form of a code.
This is an essential feature of Blockchain. This feature implies that any data entered in Blockchain cannot undergo any modification or be tampered with. This characteristic is one of the most popular benefits of Blockchain. It has also made its application-wide, as many sectors require a technology ensuring data integrity and protection.
The food industry has, over the years, experienced some significant problems, which, if not solved, can potentially harm the smooth flow of the ecosystem. Although these food industries are big, they have been unable to correct these problems efficiently. Thus, the need for Blockchain technology arises. Let’s consider some of the notable problems in the food industry:
Lack of Product Traceability in the Food Chain Industry This is one of the major issues in the food industry today. Tracking products is relatively difficult, and most big companies seem less concerned about this issue. However, without proper tracking of products, customers are made unaware of how or in what way the food they consume is processed. Well, one might say no customer is interested in whether the elements used in food production are healthy. So this makes them more skeptical about everything they eat. This is why tracking the product or production process is vital, as it will ensure quality maintenance. Son industries need to invest more in food tracking or the process from suppliers to the consumers of such products. This is a problem, as many investors are unwilling to spend more money on issues like this.
The issue of Changing Regulations With a close look, we will realize that the food and beverage industry falls under government regulations. So, several organizations like FDA, FTC, EPA, and OSHA keep working to maintain certain essential norms related to food labels, hygiene and health products.Most companies will follow these regulations to produce healthy food. But in cases where there is a miscommunication, the company might end up with bad food, a surplus of raw materials or food wastage. Since the rules keep changing, many companies must follow the new rules. If in a case, their product does not comply with these rules, they end up losing money and valuable time.
Complications of Inventory Management in the Food Industry Regarding inventory management in the food industry, it is usually complicated in relation to the food expiration date. So food industries require more maintenance compared to other industries. Also, to maintain hygiene in production, there is a need always to monitor the conditions of the storage facilities in the company. In this case, manual monitoring is very time-consuming. More so, there are cases where companies are not properly equipped to manage, especially during seasonal demands. Such industries end up with mismanaged inventory. Mismanaged inventory, in turn, leads to food wastage and financial loss. So we witness cases like late shipmen arrivals or sending the wrong products with shorter shelf life.
Issue of Poor Food Safety Poor food safety is one of the utmost pressing issues in the food industry. This is because, when processing food, any slight misconduct or mishandling of food elements can directly lead to contamination. The consequence of this is loss of money. In this regard, it is agreeable to say that the food industry is yet to have a solid ground in food safety. In some cases, this issue can even go unnoticed until it causes much damage. Since the food industry is directly responsible for publichealth, poor food safety is a serious problem. The company might be left with a bad reputation, heavy fines, or even shut down for minor cases. This issue makes consumers skeptical about what to buy, which isn’t a good development.
The Lack of Transparency in Labeling The lack of transparency in labeling is an issue that directly affects consumers. Though in most cases, companies are rather honest when describing the ingredients used in production. But sometimes, too, we can find misleading information on labels. A good example is when meat-based products are classified as chemical elements. This information can result from the company’s desire to draw vegetarians to the product. Similarly, companies might use harmful chemicals in production but intentionally omit them. This practice is quite harmful and unacceptable.
Issue of Counterfeit Products Every year, there continues to be an increase in complaints against counterfeit products. Considering that counterfeit products are common in the food industry, serious measures need to be put in place. This is because if people start consuming counterfeit products, they can fall ill or even die. We find a lot of shady companies out there, thus making it difficult for consumers to differentiate between authentic and counterfeit companies. So, such issues as counterfeit products should be curtailed. If not, they can damage the company or harm the consumer.
Application of Blockchain in the food industry
Having examined the key issues found in the food industry, let’s consider how Blockchain can help with the issues found in the food industry:
Blockchain and Food Traceability In food industries, traceability is one of the major requirements. Many companies sometimes feel reluctant to track food. But without proper tracking, consumers can hardly find out how the food they consume is processed.This is where Blockchain technology comes in. as we’ve discussed earlier, Blockchain can track food from suppliers to the consumer who buys the product. This way, the companies can harness the power to increase their product visibility. They can therefore offer a better quality of food to consumers.
Blockchain Can Help Ensure Food Safety Another notable benefit of Blockchain technology is its ability to maintain food safety. This is so because, with Blockchain, customers can easily purchase products and goods without worrying about contamination or other food-related issues. Since food industries are not focused on tracking the main source of food contamination, it might go unnoticed for some time. So, with the help of Blockchain, companies can easily monitor their raw elements and finished products.
Operational Need Another area where Blockchain can help is meeting a company’s operational needs. Considering how demanding operations needs can get, it can be tough to meet them efficiently. This is so in cases where companies cannot meet a large need in a short time. But with Blockchain technology, they can track all production lines and meet all demands of daily operations.
Blockchain Can Also Help Prevent Price Coercion This case is usually prevalent in the food industry, and this may be due to social or environmentalfactors. The issue of price change has a negative impact on consumers, as they are also faced with an inadequate amount of money to invest in food products.In this case, Blockchain plays the role of aiding reduction in cost price. It can also help, in cutting down middlemen fees, thus reducing the final pricing for the consumers. Most Blockchain industries can offer this feature without any problems.
Elimination of Counterfeits Products Blockchain eradicates the issue of counterfeit products. This issue is simply solved by traceability. Since Blockchain can track all products from the production link down to the consumer of the product, identifying counterfeit products won’t be hard. Also, it can reduce the wide scope of counterfeit products by identifying the source of the issue.
Reduction of Food Waste This is another benefit of Blockchain technology we shouldn’t miss. In reality, we find several causes of food wastage, starting from the issue of inventory management. Another issue is the delayed shipment of products.Whichever way, the company is responsible for dealing with this loss. But with the application of Blockchain technology, companies can trace food products to ensure that they conform to health guidelines. Also, since everything can be taken care of online, improving efficiency and minimizing food wastage will be much easier.
Real Examples of companies using Blockchain in the food industry
As a result of the many benefits Blockchain technology provide, many food industries employ Blockchain to ensure efficiency. Below are some popular companies that use Blockchain in the food industry:
Walmart Walmart is one of the biggest food industries using the Blockchain industry. They employ this technology in the food industry to track sliced mango packages. When this application was first initiated, it took about six days to initialize, but today it takes seconds to track the whole food process. This technology saves a lot of time and ensures that the goods are in good condition.
Carrefour Carrefour is known to be Europe’s largest retailer, and they use Blockchain to trace free-range chickens. Also, they let shoppers track the process of each stage. The stages include where and how the chicken was made available in the store. Considering the success of Blockchain in this area, Carrefour intends to employ Blockchain in food and food items like milk, honey, tomatoes, eggs etc.
Bumble Bee Foods Bumble bee food use Blockchain management to trace yellowfin tuna, which the fishermen catch from the sea. They are also currently working with SAP on the pilot project. Their primary aim is to maintain transparency. They also intend to eliminate mislabeling and help consumers track all processes involved in the trade. Other examples of companies using Blockchain in the food industry include Nestle, Anheuser-Busch InBev, JBS, Tyson Foods and many more.
Blockchain offers a lot of benefits in the world today. As we have already considered, this technology plays a very important role in the food industry. It helps eliminate many problems found in the food industry and ensures a better and healthy community for all. So if you are into the food industry and are considering Blockchain applications, you are certainly in the right part!