Consumers worldwide want to know the source of the food which they buy. In the last 30 years, food has become a traded commodity like stocks with money. The number of frauds at each step in the marketplace and at different stages of the supply chain has consequences beyond imagination. Farmers are slowly fading with corporations taking the agricultural practices at a massive scale, people should be concerned about this.
When consumers buy fish from the market, we have no idea where it comes from and how many times it has been frozen. Currently, the population supply cannot meet the demand, leading to massive manipulation and adulteration of food products, and consumers eating food that is only half as nutritious as it was earlier. Adding excessive amounts of additives to food products increases the shelf life of food products and increases profits for corporations. Food allergies are on the rise, and our bodies are rejecting what we are eating. To bring transparency to the supply chain management and traceability of food, there must be transparency in the system which is willing to keep the final line. Blockchain technology can substantially enhance this possibility.
Food Supply Chain :
By 2020, the global supply chain management market was valued at 15.85 billion U.S. dollars and is expected to grow to 31 billion U.S. dollars by 2026.
COVID-19 Impact on the Global agriculture and food supply chain Market
Post COVID-19 pandemic, the inefficiencies in the global food supply chain have been identified. The blockchain platform allows end-to-end digital trade executions. Food industries and manufacturers across the world need to release the certifications of the resources procured and the food manufacturing, to ensure the safety of every stakeholder in the value chain according to the Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI). Thus, for traceability and transparency in the food sector distributed ledger technology will play a crucial role post-pandemic.
Consumers in the present market conditions are aware of and demand full transparency in terms of their food production processes and want to trace its source. In a view of fighting this issue of food safety, many companies have come up with pilot studies to use Blockchain technology to determine and control the food production conditions throughout the supply chain.
Food giants such as Nestle with IBM in a blockchain collaboration to explore blockchain applications for food safety. Supply chain management is another important area where Blockchain technology can create wonders. To coordinate between multiple partners in bringing the food from farm to fork, to improve the supply chain, blockchain tech can fasten the approach and help in the cost-efficient delivery of food products by enhancing traceability.
JBS Foods, the world’s largest meat producer, ultimately paid $11 million in ransom to free its IT system on its food supply chain. On May 30, 2021, the company found that some of its servers were compromised due to a cyberattack.
Smart Contract technology on the blockchains automates the actions once certain conditions are met as they can code within an individual block of the blockchain which defines certain rules around a transaction, this robust technology applied to the supply chain management is promising as it will allow organizations to create a multi-party agreement and implement the terms of the agreement in a tamper-proof way. It can further be used to automate anything from shipping notifications to purchase orders to managing inventory and reporting.
In managing the supply chain, access to information and information flow through different stakeholders is vital and is prone to cyberattacks but with blockchain technology, the right people can access critical data and improve the flow of information with different stakeholders and within the organizations.
The global food traceability market size reached $4.5+ Billion in 2021, this growth is driven by an increase in demand for food traceability.
However, after the Covid -19 pandemic, Consumers across the world have developed some level of fear related to what they eat and the food has been in contact with what they consume, with the Internet of Things (IoT) and blockchain helping to enhance quality control as well as food product monitoring, As consumers worldwide demand more transparency and traceability from their products.
Food traceability is the process to follow and track the movement of a food product and its ingredients through all steps in the supply chain, both forward and backward. Traceability involves record-keeping and linking the production, processing, and distribution across the chain of food products and ingredients. In situations like foodborne illness outbreaks or contamination, efficient product tracing is important for food companies and government agencies, and those who produce and sell food to rapidly find the source and stage at where contamination may have occurred. This further helps in the faster removal of the affected product from the marketplace, reducing incidences of foodborne illnesses.
Existing Food regulations require much of the food industry to establish and maintain records that document one step forward to where food has gone and one step back to its immediate previous source. These are the bare minimum details to establish traceability recordkeeping throughout the food system,
In the past, food industries traced food products using traditional methods such as paper records and conventional software. Unfortunately, these systems relied on each participating business to provide robust and honest information. If they didn’t, then food traceability suffered.
In addition, these existing rules of traceability requirements do not apply to farms and restaurants, meaning that a large part of the supply chain is excluded from keeping these important traceability records. In case of the outbreak investigation, our ability to rapidly track and trace food is often impeded by insufficient data identifying a portion of food as it moved through its supply chain.
A modern approach to traceability that can be used throughout all stages of the food supply chain will reduce foodborne illness, improve consumer trust, and avoid food recalls. Blockchain, however, improves the situation. It provides technology that makes traceability records of food immutable. Once a worker in the supply chain enters information into a shared blockchain-based system, nobody can change it. Transactions cannot be hidden or altered in any way in the system.
Tracking and tracing are very important for businesses operating in the food industry as it allows the movement of both food products and their ingredients through every step of the supply chain, both backward (first-mile traceability) and forwards (last-mile traceability). To ensure the quality of the product and issues in real-time, linking production, processing, and distribution of products at the ingredient level gives the food brand an upper hand.
The number of benefits to applying blockchain technology for food traceability at each step from farm to fork. These include:
Identify and minimize the wastage in the supply chain, Certification of food that is legitimate, decrease food spoilage by tracking the expiring date before reaching its end-user, reduce the tampering of food products and advertising fake products, reducing the time for food recalls in case of contamination and ensuring the users that they are buying valid and real food products.
Unfortunately, traditional recordkeeping systems have loopholes. Often, data records do not provide a way to rapidly link shipments through every point in the supply chain. With blockchain technology, information at each step of the supply chain process is logged in a secure and public database by different stakeholders.
Blockchain terminates the ability to alter records once a firm creates them. It generates a transparent environment that, critically, doesn’t rely on trust. Food industries and their supply chain firms can do business with any producers they know nothing about if they agree to join the blockchain network and share details between every stakeholder as there is no need for a centralized authority to mediate between parties involved.
If something went wrong during the shipping process, the chain of custody can be traced to easily find the stage at which the issue occurred. In-Depth tracking will bring more transparency to the production of retail products. In addition to adding an extra layer of accountability, this also mitigates the risks of criminal activity and adulteration.
There is an increase in demand from consumers to know about the preparation, production, and delivery of food products that they are buying, the latest example is Starbucks using Microsoft azure blockchain services to determine real-time traceability so that consumers can know about the coffee beans they are consuming, this technology empowers farmers with visibility about their products and consumers can see the impact of their buying on the people who produce it.
Blockchain technology will not solve all the problems faced in the supply chain space, in order for this technology to be valuable, it should be scalable for larger user groups as there are multiple entities involved as network effects can impact the blockchain applications. There is a strong potential despite the scalability and other challenges using blockchain technology but we will take steps towards decentralization, transparency, and immutability will help the food industry to address the difficulties that previously seemed impossible to solve.
Blockchain will play a crucial role to bring end-to-end visibility to food supply chains in the coming days to avoid the assault on the food industry worldwide.