How Bitcoin Blockchain Technology is Transforming the Food Industry

Bitcoin is one of the most well-known applications in the field of internet technology and computer science. It is not only used for purchasing items online, but individuals and institutions are utilizing this technology to transform the food industry. The Grass Roots Farmers’ Cooperative, a collective of small-scale livestock farmers in Arkansas, is using a supply chain tracking system called Provenance that is powered by blockchain technology to trace their products. This supply chain tracking system does not have anything to do with cryptocurrency, but it is using the powerful tracking mechanism of bitcoin to smoothen the co-op’s processes.

Provenance is a London-based company founded in 2013. Ever since the company was conceived, it has helped a lot of small-scale companies all over the European Union including fishermen, winemakers, and food manufacturers. It is no surprise that farm co-ops such as the Grass Roots Farmer’s Co-op is also using it to streamline their processes.

How Can Blockchain Technology Help Farm Coops

Many people think that blockchain is a shady technology but it is much more than cryptocurrency, its database is permanent once it is entered, making every transaction traceable when applied to consumer products. According to Jessi Baker, Ph.D. in computer science and founder of Provenance, small food companies who want to trace their products can use blockchain technology as a third-party verification so that they don’t have to undergo expensive auditing processes.

How It Helps Small Farm Co-ops

Blockchains can hold data that is immutable so changing information within the database is very hard to do. The information in the database is put directly in so that people who are involved in the transaction can see it. For instance, if a member of the farm co-op raises chicken for chicken legs, they can put the conditions the chicken was raised in as well as other pertinent information in the database and then delivers the information along the supply chain until the product is sold to the end-consumers.


Bitcoin & Blockchain Equals More Transparency

Aside from pertinent information about the product, other information such as certification of their products can also be entered into the database. This makes it easier for consumers to scrutinize the product and it gives people access to a paper trail for transparency. So, when you pick up a bag of apples at your local grocery store, you can scan a QR code on the package, so you can pull all the information that you need about the product that you want to buy.


Setting Expectations With Consumers

With elevated product transparency, the blockchain technology also sets expectations to consumers about the condition of the products that they have bought from start to finish. Consumers are guaranteed that they are buying certain products from quality sources. This prevents many food companies from making fraudulent and misleading claims. This increases the credibility of companies that are involved in using this technology. It is definitely a win-win solution for both food manufacturers and consumers.

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Blockchain Infiltrated the Agriculture Sector and You Might Not Know It

Blockchain has been the buzzword of the last year. The high market value of Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies have made them very lucrative not only in the finance and IT industries but even agriculture. While cryptocurrencies are in the spotlight, it is important to take note that blockchain technology is not only about digital cash as it is actually a type of secure and powerful database.

Traceability of Crop Supply

The blockchain ledger can help farmers update that status of their crops from planting to delivery. This makes the technology very beneficial, especially in large operations. It is also a secure ledger that never loses a load, so you can view the status of your crops in real time.

It can also be used to document the supply chain so that farmers can meet the regulatory compliance as well as meet the expectations of consumers. This is especially true among farmers who aim to produce organic produce and want their crops to be verified as organic.

When it is time to sell the crops, growers can also use the blockchain technology as a platform of payment. For instance, Australian-based company Blockgrain offers a payment platform to farmers using the technology.

Precise Agriculture Resource Management

Farming management can be complicated. There are so many things to take into consideration to ensure that crops grow successfully for every season. Thus, the blockchain technology can be used by farmers to record al field applications as well as track the resources in real time.

It can be used to track everything from planting season, crop types, machinery maintenance, the status of filed sensors, and many others. In a nutshell, the growers can keep a real-time picture of the entire farm operation thus it can help farmers make a sound decision based on the data available from the blockchain technology.

What makes this technology perfect in agriculture resource management is that it has a decentralized nature in keeping records. Thus, any updates automatically become part of the ledger and that every device that participates in record-keeping gets an updated record. This means that even in the absence of internet connection, you can still update the record and it gets synched once you are back online.


Integration of Internet-Of-Things

The blockchain technology can also be incorporated with the Internet-of-Things (IoT). Recently IBM focused IoT for farmers so that they can monitor soil quality, irrigation, pests, and other factors to grow better crops and yields. The sensors on the IoT produce records and what better way to store the records than using the blockchain technology.

As a database, it contains a ledger containing accounts and transactions that are easy to access as long as you have the right keys. Thus, for the agriculture sector, this technology can be used by growers and farm owners in keeping track of inventory and contracts. It can be used in combination with apps and spreadsheets so that it can become a single source of data for the entire farm. Blockchain can reduce the strain when it comes to record-keeping as well as maintain multiple record systems. This results in the farmer saving time and energy, making it a valuable technology in the agriculture sector. The technology is not all about helping farmers earn more money but help in the automation, digitization, and tracking of their entire operations.

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Starbucks is Working on Blockchain for “Bean to Cup” Tracking

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Starbucks released this week that it is working with blockchain technology to create a “bean to cup” tracking system. The innovation is driven by the consumer’s desire for more transparency into where food and beverages come from. Starbucks is launching the pilot program to track coffee beans from Costa Rica, Rwanda, and Colombia.

Starbucks + Blockchain = Coffee Traceability

The premium coffee company believes that blockchain’s “traceability technology” pairs well with their commitment to ethically sourced coffee and ecologic sustainability. Starbucks believes the technology will enable them to strengthen their supply chain and relationship with consumers.

The blockchain pilot program will go through multiple phases over the next two years. The pilot will fall in line with the Sustainable Coffee Challenge that the company championed with Conservation International in 2015. The company plans to share its results with the public.

Shortcomings of Current Blockchain Technology for the Food Supply Chain

The traceability of coffee beans to the cup is a noble cause by Starbucks, but it is worth noting that there are still some shortcomings with blockchain technology when applied in the food industry. Food supply chain experts still believe the “winning” blockchain application has yet to be developed for the food industry.

There are currently issues with entirely tracking that ingredient to the final product in many cases. IBM is working on a few innovations to help solve this issue. They believe that “cryptographic anchors” may be the solution in the next five years. Anchors would include microscopic, digestible ink dots on products to verify the authenticity of the final product within the supply chain.

While there are a few shortcomings, Starbucks is again leading the way with technology in the food industry. It will be interesting to see how blockchain works for them over the next few years.

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CFI Finds Only 33% of Consumers Trust The Food System

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The Center for Food Integrity (CFI) released a new study, A Dangerous Food Disconnect: When Consumers Hold You Responsible  But Don’t Trust You, that looks at some damaging statistics on the food system. First and foremost, the study revealed that 33% of consumers do not trust the food system, which is down from 47% in 2017. This is alarming and further supports the movement by food companies to be more transparent and create products with simple ingredients.

Food Companies Placed Last on List of Most Trusted Information in the Food System

The new CFI study is important because it showcases the disconnect between what consumers think and what food companies across the industry are actively doing to ease their concerns. On the list of most trusted sources for food safety information, food companies ranked dead last with food regulators taking 8th on the list, and farmers ranking 3rd on the list. Surprisingly, family and physicians ranked as the most trusted sources of food safety information.


Roxi Beck, Director of the CFI, believes food companies have to further their mission of product transparency. She suggests inviting consumers to the farms and manufacturing facilities to build more trust. She also suggests large CPG companies be wary of touting their large size and global scale as it often viewed as a warning sign to consumers today. The small brands are taking advantage of this and winning big time.

Investing in Transparency Efforts and Technology

Multiple food companies and suppliers in the food system are looking at new blockchain technology to lead the transparency effort. Companies like Cargill have tested blockchain to allow consumers to trace their Thanksgiving Turkey back to the farm it was raised on. This is a step in the right direction.

Other companies are looking for ways to better tell their brand stories to lead transparency efforts. Marketing teams across food brands are selling this hard up the ladder because they know how important trust is to purchase decisions and long-term brand loyalty. The bottom line will grow as food companies and their brand focus on building more trust with consumers.

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Blockchain Technology Makes Splash in Seafood Industry

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Blockchain is the hottest technology in the world right now with cryptocurrencies leading the way with outrageous returns. However,  blockchain is much more than cryptocurrencies. It is a new technology for a distributed ledger of transactions called blocks that are linked and secured through cryptography. The seafood industry appears to be the first to take a leap in utilizing the technology in the food industry.

How is Blockchain being used with Seafood?

Many times when consumers buy seafood, they wonder if this is really wild? Viant and the World Wild Fund have developed a blockchain certification system to offer consumers a way to track a fish’s history from the ocean to the table. Fish are tagged with a QR code when caught, so that information is then logged into Viant’s system. From the fishing net to the market, information on the fish’s journey is added. As mentioned above, blockchain technology is tamper-proof, but Viant’s seafood blockchain will allow participants to choose what they want to upload and how they want the product tracked.


Traceability and Transparency Leading Factors for Blockchain in Food Industry

Retailers are working with food brands to develop blockchain ledgers for a variety of products. Currently, Wal-Mart is the only retailer testing traceability systems with their first tests happening in late 2017. Consumers are driving food brands and retailers to provide more transparency and traceability into where their food comes from in the world. This new technology seems to be able to give help to brands and retailers as they reformulate products and open up their supply chain to consumers. However, they will guard this supply chain information from their competitors, so don’t expect too much insight.

This is just the beginning of the blockchain wave, but it appears it may be catching on with the food industry in 2018.

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