09 Apr Why did the chicken cross the road? Blockchain
If you thought you heard more than you ever wanted to know about cryptocurrency last year, get ready for blockchain business stories to proliferate.
So, what’s a nice chicken like you doing in this blockchain?
Kidding aside, blockchain is making big inroads into many businesses including the food industry for some very good reasons.
Businessweek reported on a project that answers some of the questions about a blockchain business case for food production:
“Did the chicken you just buy at the supermarket have a nice life, roam free, and eat healthy grains? If you’re the kind of person who cares, Carrefour SA, the big France-based grocery chain, has the bird for you.”
According to the report, every house brand chicken Carrefour sells comes with a label that consumers can scan to get the fowl story thanks to blockchain technology.
Food safety paramount
While this story may or may not appeal to foodies, the company’s real goal is to improve food safety and protect its food standards and brand.
Other major companies like Nestlé, Dole Food, Unilever and Tyson Foods are working with Walmart and IBM to develop food tracking standards to improve food safety for very good business reasons.
For example, Frank Yiannas, Walmart Inc.’s vice president for food safety and health, estimates that for every 1% improvement in food-borne diseases, the US economy would benefit by $700 million in increased productivity and reduced worker illness and days absent.
Tracking food by blockchain
Recording and verifying the food production journey using blockchain is not as simple as it sounds. Carrefour uses 15 data points to track production, processing and sales of a single Auvergne chicken in their epicerie.
Included in the data are the hatchery name, chicken date of birth and farm departure date; producer information like verification of GMO-free, antibiotic-free and free-range status; and processor information such as location, packaging and labeling, transportation, batch number and product “best before” date.
The blockchain benefits include tamper-free records keeping, tracking and verification.
Health dangers cost the food industry $49 billion every year
Every year, health problems cost the food industry more than $49 billion and the Grocery Manufacturers Association estimates as much as 10% of US foods may be adulterated.
Food recalls result in the loss of more than 133 billion pounds of food every year according to the US Department of Agriculture. That’s 40% of the nation’s food supply.
Using blockchain technology, food handling can be much improved. Sources of contaminated foods or virus outbreaks can be identified faster and prevent widespread food contamination and reduce the waste and cost of some of these bigger industry problems.
An ethical foods advantage?
As consumers exercise more control and interest in the source and quality of foods they buy and consume, ethical foods producers could find a market advantage using blockchain technology.
This product data may be way more information than the consumer really wants to know about their chicken pot pie. But if consumers and producers are concerned about food quality, safety and standards, thanks to blockchain technology they can learn everything they want to know with the simple scan of a QR code on a product label.
It’s just another of the growing examples of business use benefits of blockchain technology.
Author: Jeff Domansky, Managing Editor