Empowering The Consumer From The Table To The Farm—A Blockchain Use Case

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It seems to me that not a week goes by that I don’t get a report of some product defect, or a new study that a food substance will cause cancer. Just this morning, a Facebook post warned that a near earth asteroid could hit the earth and cause a tsunami that will wipe out all of the North American coastline. Such warnings causes fear and angst in people who feel they are not in control of their own destiny.

In 2006 the CDC  issued its final report on an e-coli outbreak. It determined that the source was from a Taco Bell restaurant. Once isolated to the business, the next task would have been to trace the e-coli to the particular vegetable in question, and then to the farm itself. All in all, a time consuming and laborious process in an effort to prevent the spread of such an outbreak.

In another e-coli incident, Charlie Sweat, CEO of Earthbound Farm—a California farm that produces a majority of the country’s packaged organic salads—was faced with an E. coli outbreak that affected the company’s spinach. As a result, “three people died, and 200 more were sickened,” reported FastCompany. It was found that the source was likely from an Angus cattle ranch that leased land to Earthbound Farm.

So whether it’s an imagined near asteroid or an e-coli outbreak, people need accurate reports to assure themselves they are going to be okay. Tracing food to its source as rapidly as is technically possible is of paramount importance whenever the food has been compromised in the supply chain.

Trace Your Own Food from Table to Farm

A blockchain use case is now focused on the ability for the consumer to be able to trace their own foods from their table to the farm.  In July, Nestlé reported in a press release that it “will break new ground in supply chain transparency through a collaboration with OpenSC – an innovative blockchain platform that allows consumers to track their food right back to the farm.”  (Nestlé)

Moreover, Nestlé says: “Through this collaboration, Nestlé becomes the first major food and beverage company to announce that it will pilot open blockchain technology in this way. This is part of Nestlé’s journey towards full transparency.”

While Nestlé has been working on a consortium with IBM and Walmart to research supply chain blockchain use case, the focus has been on the companies’ ability to trace supply in their respective chains. “Nestlé has piloted blockchain technology since 2017, most prominently with IBM Food Trust. In April, it gave consumers access to blockchain data for the first time, through Mousline purée in France.” (Nestlé)

Empowering the Consumer

OpenSC is a “global platform that enables suppliers and stakeholders to scan QR codes on products to access information regarding the origin, the production and the product journey along the supply chain,” says Dale Benton, Supply Chain Digital .  OpenSC was launched by a partnership of WWF-Australia and the Boston Consulting Group Digital Ventures.

With this technology, they’ve developed a platform giving consumers access to independently research supply chain data. In this way the consumer can take control in getting the right, verified data.

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‪𝐁𝐥𝐨𝐜𝐤𝐜𝐡𝐚𝐢𝐧 𝐅𝐨𝐨𝐝 𝐃𝐢𝐬𝐭𝐫𝐢𝐛𝐮𝐭𝐢𝐨𝐧 𝐆𝐚𝐢𝐧𝐬 𝐓𝐫𝐚𝐜𝐭𝐢𝐨𝐧‬ While some industry players led by Walmart are participating in a private implementation of a blockchain food safety solution run though the IBM Food Trust, there’s a concurrent opportunity in the public blockchain offering similar supply-chain visibility without the same expense—or the risk of sharing data with competitors. “We’re building what we are calling an end-to-end visibility platform on top of blockchain technology.” – John Monarch ShipChain CEO‬ Read the whole article by clicking the link in our bio or read here – https://www.winsightgrocerybusiness.com/technology/blockchain-food-distribution-gains-traction‬

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Initially, says Nestle, the pilot program will “trace milk from farms and producers in New Zealand to Nestlé factories and warehouses in the Middle East,” with plans to add the technology for a second pilot at a later time—to test using palm oil whose sources are in the Americas. The pilots are designed to test and gain an understanding of the scalability of the system.

Magdi Batato, Nestlé, says “We want our consumers to make an informed decision on their choice of products—to choose products produced responsibly. Open blockchain technology might allow us to share reliable information with consumers in an accessible way.”

According to Benjamin Ware of Nestlé, the blockchain will allow consumers anywhere in world to have access to sourcing facts and data about the product. It is this distributed ledger technology in blockchain that provides transparency and increases the level of responsibility for the producers.

Image Source: microsoft.com Full trace-ability will be possible utilizing the blockchain. Allowing consumers to see exactly where their favorite products are coming from. One of the many benefits of utilizing the blockchain for trace-ability. Farm to table 2.0.

Conclusion

We live in an era uncertainty. People have a need and a desire for information to make informed decisions, or simply to know what they can or cannot trust.

While the politicians debate borders, it’s clear we live in a smaller world of globalization where you can buy fresh clams in Southern California or New York within 48 hours of being harvested from Manila. One can buy tomatoes picked from farms in Mexico within days of a harvest. This makes the importance of blockchain to help humanity on a global scale get the right information about their food: Truly from their table back to the farm in an expedient way.

At least in this part of our lives we can sleep easier.

As to near earth asteroids? Well, I suppose we’ll have to leave that for the astronomers. I doubt we will see any blockchain solution to stop this one.

 


Sources

Benton, Dale,  “WWF partners with BCG Digital Ventures to launch OpenSC supply chain visibility platform” Supply Chain Digital, January 2019.

CDC, “Multistate Outbreak of E. coli O157 Infections Linked to Taco Bell (FINAL UPDATE)” https://www.cdc.gov/ecoli/2006/taco-bell-12-2006.html, December 14, 2006.

Fast Company, “The Companies Trying To Track Everything We Eat, From Seed To Stomach”, https://www.fastcompany.com/3063134/food-safety-track-and-trace-data, September 2016.

Nestlé, “Nestlé breaks new ground with open blockchain pilot” https://www.nestle.com/media/pressreleases/allpressreleases/nestle-open-blockchain-pilot, July 2019.

 

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