11 June 2020

Globalization is taking us to places never seen before. This all started with the internet and has not stopped since. Bitcoin and blockchain also caught the world by surprise. The connection between them is unquestionable. In this interconnected world, the concept and importance of the local are changing. The local is no longer as relevant as before. What dominates industries now is universal. And the food industry is no exception to the rule.

The concept of a global value chain is becoming more and more common. Companies now develop their products with the idea of a universal consumer in mind. This universal consumer is very much concerned about the quality of what he or she consumes. They are also particularly concerned about the safety and origin of their food.

Faced with this situation, many companies have started to improve these mechanisms. How could the industry make sure that the process is transparent for its consumers? The answer is easy: blockchain.

Food Industry’s Biggest Problem

The problem with the global supply chain is complex. There are many parties involved, and each one has different objectives. There are companies, distributors, producers, retailers, storage systems, transport, and many more. Each of these is run differently from the other.

There is a flaw in this system: with so many involved, you can expect that information will get lost in the process. For example, if you go to a market, they will most likely not know where your food came from unless they grew it themselves.

For example, if there is any contaminated food, getting to the source of infection takes days. It can even take weeks. It can also take weeks to remove all infected products from the market. This is because product traceability is almost non-existent. Once the source of infection is found, it may be too late. Lots of infected food has already been bought off the shelves.

The industry needs a tool that is reliable and transparent. This tool needs to be tamper-proof.

The blockchain would unify an industry whose companies have their own unique processes. A blockchain proposal would be based on several main axes. The first axis would be a shared database among the participants. Here, everyone would have restricted access to the operations. As a feature of the blockchain, all operations are validated via consensus. Nobody can change these operations. All data keeps its integrity.

Having a blockchain would also assure that all identities are private. Likewise, smart contract transactions would verify the data in a matter of seconds.

The blockchain would also verify the origin of diverse food products. This would virtually end food fraud. There would be no way in which a shady company could pretend to produce products of a more well-known brand.

Blockchain: The Most Complex Solution

This, however, is not so simple. The blockchain can be difficult to understand. And to be honest, until you see a real example, very few brands will be willing to take the risk. Yet, there are many companies out there trying to adopt it as fast as possible. This is the case of Little Big Burger and BGR, two fast-food companies. These two, obsessed with giving customers an authentic experience, put their faith in the blockchain.

Being in the blockchain, no one can abuse the reward system. All this was possible thanks to a third-party contractor, Mobivity. Mobivity is a platform focused on improving customer experience.

A more specific case is that of IBM and Walmart. These two have a project that tracks products from their origin. In this blockchain, consumers can find out where and when their product came from.

They can also find out how many stages the product went through before it got to them. This is not about transparency or an industry experiment – it’s about building brand trust.

It is getting more and more common to see consumers concerned about the origin of what they consume. Truth is – blockchain can be a tool for both brands and consumers.

Something is cookin’, and blockchain is wearing the Grill Master Apron.

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Edmund McCormack
Tech industry veteran and blockchain technology investor. Simplifying cryptocurrency for almost a decade.

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