The traceability and transparency provided by Blockchain technology makes it possible to highligth products that have more quality, ahead of others.
“Tomate RAF at 8.90 a kilo” is what the consumer knows about my product. This comment was made by the head of quality of a cooperative in Almería, and then added ” We, internally, carry out controls and analyzes that provide information that supports the quality of our products and guarantees their food safety. Information that should be available to consumers and right now it is difficult to send it to them”.
Guaranteeing the origin of a product, giving visibility to its qualities, guarantees of its health, in addition to providing information on the production and handling processes to which they have been subjected, is a challange for the different actor in the food chain that they bet on a differential product, to stand out against those of varieties, supposedly equal, marketed at similar prices, but with “unknown” qualities and provenances.
The supply chain of an agricultural product is very complex, the participants are many and varies, each with its own information system: records based on excel sheets, paper forms, generic or proprietary management software, etc. All this allows the chain to work, but, at the same time, makes it impossible for all information on the type of crop, fertilizers and phytosanitary products applied, or food and quality test and controls, transport, storage etc,; the stay in the hard drives and drawers of each company. Information that is not visible and is very difficult to collect.
6 days, 18 hours and 26 minutes to collect all the inforation about a batch of Mango.
More than six and a half days, it was what Walmart took to gather all the information about any of the lots of semi-processed Mango that they sold in their stores. Given this scenario, they opted to implement a pilot, based on the IBM Food Trust solution, to see how long it took to carry our the same information collection, using the IBM Blockchain platform. In just 2.2 seconds they obtained the same information, about a batch of cut mango, from the tree to the linear of their supermarkets. The result of this pilot was so successful that Walmart has made the decision to demand all its products suppliers the use of IBM Food Trust as of September 2019.
“The good product must tell its story ”
In the food supply chain there are participants who are not interested in being transparent and who know the real origin of their product. They prefer to continue with the current system, which implies a certain opacity and allows them to sell products of lower quality in similar conditions than those of higher added value, “more authentic”. To deal with this type of “fraud”, the most powerful weapon is that the authentic product is able to tell its story for itself.
For this, IBM – one of the world’s leading companies offering state-of-the-art IT solutions – makes its “Food Trust” platform available to the industry, which makes Blockchain technology accessible to all participants in the food supply chain – from agricultural producers, more or less large, through cooperatives and meatballs to reach consumers, through medium and large stores or proximity stores.
How authentic and quality products can speak for themselves?
IBM Food Trust is a transaction recording system that, by applying Blockchain technology, stores the information of each action within the agri-food environment, and that generates a cryptographic signature that certifies both the origin of the information and that will never be manipulated in the weather. These records are stored and available for consultation in public or private mode.
For example, when implementing IBM Food Trust in the different stages through which a fruit passes (cultivation, harvesting, distribution, transport, etc.) such as a melon, it is sufficient to add a graphic code, on its label or on its packaging, by that any consumer, using his mobile phone, can obtain all the information about the origin and way of cultivation of said melon, as well as consult the tests, certifications, etc .; of the specific batch of this product. Doing things right to achieve a quality product is very good, but it must be demonstrated, both to the rest of the members of the food chain and, especially, to consumers.
The current consumer demands more, not only wants a quality product, wants to know in detail where food comes from, how they are produced, what they are made of and how healthy they are, or what environmental footprint they leave. Given these demands, some large stores have announced that they will require their suppliers to have implemented solutions that allow complete traceability, certified by blockchain technology, of all the food products that are present in the linear stores. Walmart has marked its red line in September of this 2019 and Carrefour has set the border for the year 2022.
This scenario has caused leading producers in the processed food industry such as Nestle, Aguinaga or Unilever to work internationally to promote traceability projects with blockchain in a consortium with IBM. But also companies such as Galpagro, at the forefront of high production olive groves and extra high quality virgin olive oil, have launched pilot projects based on the IBM Food Trust solution.
We don’t talk about the future, we talk about the present. The technology is available and is accessible to any food producer and marketer.