Enabling traceability in the food industry
In general, companies do not know enough about the products that they buy and sell to navigate the many complex challenges facing today’s global supply chains (e.g., safe, sustainable and ethical). Some companies are realizing the business value of traceability for efficiency, cost savings, and achieving product premiums in the market. However, they must first overcome the mistrust associated with validating claims of product identity and traceability. Companies should prepare for every action or inaction to be closely scrutinized. More can be done to equip companies with real-time traceability of products within global food supply chains. Blockchain, a type of distributed ledger technology (DLT), has been increasingly gaining market traction in supply chains—for example, in proofing product provenance and implementing track-and-trace of products through the supply chain. While blockchain alone does not solve traceability, it can be a gamechanger. When implemented effectively, it can connect and enable efficiency, transparency and accountability among participating actors. Better and more reliable data can help optimize business decisions and reach higher standards for production, efficiency and sustainability.
Value levers specific to commercial food supply chain companies:
The commercial food industry is exploring the collaborative potential for enhancing workflows by using blockchain. The main supply chain challenges that businesses seek to address are:
- Coordinating across multiple, disbursed and often disconnected supply chain actors
- Onerous and costly data reconciliation processes
- Lack of product traceability
Although relatively new, blockchain is already generating excitement among some companies in these industries. That’s because it offers many benefits that are valuable to diverse actors in a supply chain:
Profiles of the four use cases:
Four commodities were selected for their clarity in start and end points, clarity of blockchain objectives, consistent data definitions and data availability, and integration within the supply chain.
Feasibility and value:
While blockchain traceability solutions could be created for all four commodities, this study’s findings indicate that certain use cases could be prioritized based on value provided and operational and market feasibility conditions. The design and development of the technology and technical solution are similar across use cases. Combining blockchain with existing traceability applications need not be overly complicated. The least ideal use cases had significant operational challenges that are not currently offset by sizeable business value and market feasibility to make them investment ready.