We’re well aware that most the time we’re discussing something more explicitly related to web hosting, computing, or online business interests with our blog here. In a few instances we’ve discussed Blockchain technology and the Internet of Things, but we’ve never discussed them together before, and certain not within the context of how the two could be coming together in the future to ensure that what you’re putting on your dinner plate IS what you think you’re putting on your dinner plate.
Recent industry news is highlighting this exact possibility, and we’ll get into explaining just how exactly this may work. Here at 4GoodHosting, we’re like all other quality Canadian web hosting providers in that we very much enjoy hearing of how digital technology advances have the ability to not only make life better for many, but also to make it a lot more difficult for those who purposefully choose to be deceitful in the interest of making a dirty dollar.
So let’s get right to it, in the interest of any and all who’ve been sold farmed Tilapia that’s labelled as ocean-caught wild cod or something similar.
The Full Food Journey – Detailed Entirely
If what we are to understand here, the way blockchain and IoT tracking technology will be able to trace any grown, raised, or cultivated food along its entire journey from farms to grocery store shelves will change the food industry in very revolutionary ways. Most notably, it may actually LOWER your grocery bill. That may be made possible by reducing retailers’ costs by streamlining supply chains and simplifying regulatory compliance. All of this is according to a new study by Juniper Research in the United Kingdom.
The primary key to all of this would be blockchain’s immutable ledger, which when combined with IoT sensors and trackers, would create a supremely efficient food recall process.
But how would it take on the huge problem that is food fraud? For those not familiar, Food fraud is when food is mislabelled, diluted or substituted food and ingredients.
Let’s take an example, any example. How about extra virgin olive oil? It may be on your local grocery’s shelf labelled as originating from Greece. However, it originated from somewhere nowhere even close to the Aegean region. Blockchain’s ledger will be able to make end retailers be aware of these fraudulent claims, which of course are almost exclusively used to raise prices on products to create greater profits for manufacturers and middlemen in the food industry.
Big Time Billions in Savings from Fraud
Ever greater adoption of Blockchain and IoT tracking technologies in the supply chain industry are forecasted to create $31 billion in food fraud savings globally by 2024. This will be made possible by tracking food across the supply chain, and tracking it so accurately that the information will be functionally indisputable. Substantial savings in food fraud will be realized as early as 2021 and compliance costs are expected to be reduced by 30% within 4 or so years from now.
As it is now, food tracking systems rely on paper trail to manually track assets throughout the supply chain, and do so far too much. These inefficient systems make it so that records can be lost or unreconciled. Plus these new more irrefutable records could be shared by all supply chain users, which would promote the overall visibility of the supply chain.
The Starbucks Example
Starbucks’ and Microsoft are taking the lead on this, creating a mobile ‘bean to cup’ tracking app that incorporates this blockchain / IoT merger perfectly and enables customers to see where their coffee was grown, and the full journey it took before filling their cup (ideally not a disposable one).
It’s helpful to look at this further and understand that companies often have to rely on intermediaries to perform these tracking tasks. The drawback is that this adds a level of complexity to the supply chain, resulting in increases inefficiency, fraud and waste. New Blockchain and IoT technology supply chain tracking would eliminate nearly all of this very nicely.
Further, private or ‘permissioned’ blockchains can be created within a company’s four walls, or between trusted partners. Being able to administer them centrally while still retaining control over who has access to information on the network (in order to overview any who may try to falsify it) is going to be hugely beneficial.
It is true that IoT devices shipped with goods link the physical and digital worlds primarily via location tracking sensors, along with temperature and humidity monitoring. Add blockchain to the equation and you’ve now got a place where the data can be stored and accessed by everyone on the ledger. Ledger users can also be segmented so sensitive business data isn’t exposed to competitors, the report said.
This new distributed ledger technology’s innate capabilities have not been lost on enterprises either. More pilots and proofs of concept are sprouting up all across the grocery and food industry. Look no further than the fact that 20% of the top 10 global grocers will be using blockchain by 2025, and it’s expected that the widespread utilization of this – and belief in it’s effectiveness – will increase consumer confidence and help with customer trust and loyalty.
Transparency in product nature and sourcing is going to be HUGE for customer satisfaction and return business in a multi billion dollar a year industry in North America.
Talking about Starbucks again, they’ve partnered with Microsoft to build a blockchain supply chain aimed at tracking coffee beans from farms to stores. Not stopping there, they’re also planning to create a mobile app that lets customers track the full supply chain journey of the beans that are the source of the coffee they’re enjoying at that very moment.
GrainChain, a blockchain-based supply chain service based in McAllen, Texas, is also being an early bird with all of this. Their new service is being piloted by roughly 10% of Honduras coffee growers – some 12,000 farmers – with an eye on going into full production around April 2020.
So the next time you bite into a food of any sort and question whether you’ve got what you’ve paid for, take some solace in the fact that new digital technologies may be making the ease of this deception a thing of the past. That’s going to be good for EVERYONE, as well as spend a lot of our hard-earned money at the grocery store year in and out, and especially if you’ve got children at home.