The food industry is under increasing pressure to meet the demands of a growing world population, with some estimating food production has to grow by 60% to meet demand. Consumers are also demanding ever more insight into the origin of the products they buy. They want to be sure they purchase a product that is produced under sustainable conditions and of excellent quality. Incidents such as the horsemeat scandal have only increased the need for transparency in the food supply chain.
What can blockchain mean for the food industry?
One of the big promises of blockchain technology, when applied to supply chains, is the idea of transparency. Since transactions on a blockchain are recorded chronologically and shared among multiple parties, the idea is that those transactions can be made visible to these collaborating parties. In this way, participants step away from having their own individual data silos (to which access is usually very much restricted), and take a more open, transparent approach instead. The benefit to collaborating parties is that the data on a blockchain is auditable for all parties.
A blockchain is a network of physically separate databases that all share copies of the same data. The databases synchronize data with each other over the blockchain network. A blockchain is therefore decentralized. All stakeholders in the supply chain are “on the same database” – but there are multiple copies of that database shared to various stakeholder locations.
Why decentralize copies of the same database?
In a blockchain, there’s not one single owner and/or manager of the database. The database is shared instead. On a blockchain, key stakeholders have transparency because they each have a copy of the same database with all transactions. There are no more “isolated” databases where details can be faked before being exported to other databases along the supply chain.
Combining blockchain with other technologies
Of course, blockchain is not the only technology the food industry should be investigating. ChainPoint has its own approach to blockchain. With our hybrid solution, it is possible to integrate supply chain data with all chain partners; in this way, the ledger can share data and information based on pre-competitive agreements.
Blockchain for SMEs.
Many small- to medium-sized companies find it difficult to get started with new technologies since the scale of SMEs is often too small, among other reasons. The Blockstart project is designed to make blockchain technology more accessible to SMEs. Working together, the project partners form an international ecosystem of business networks, incubators and blockchain experts. They will identify and take on the greatest challenges facing SMEs in health, logistics and agrifood. This ecosystem then provides business support, networking opportunities and a testing environment, giving SMEs the resources to overcome the hurdles to adopting digital skills and new technologies.
One of the project’s key services is the SME Training Programme – a free educational opportunity for European SMEs to understand how blockchain could impact not only their sector but also their business.