HOW BLOCKCHAIN IS IMPROVING FOOD TRACEABILITY27/06/2023
Food traceability is a key component in the food industry, as it ensures food safety and quality, prevents foodborne illnesses and decreases the impact of food recalls. Consumers’ concerns over food safety have been driving the growth of the food traceability industry which, last year, was globally valued at US$ 18.3 Billion and now is set to grow at a CAGR of 9.0% in the next six years.
If traditional methods of food traceability include incomplete recordkeeping, slow response times during recalls, inaccurate exchange of information between supply chain stakeholders and difficulty in tracing products along the supply chain, blockchain technology is now offering a helping hand.
With blockchain food traceability systems, every step of the journey from farm to consumer can be recorded and easily accessed. This record may include the origin of the food product, its preparation, handling and distribution. One of the main advantages of blockchain technology is its ability to build a transparent and auditable supply chain as all the stakeholders can access the same information and everyone is aligned. This not only increases trust and collaboration among stakeholders, but it also helps identifying and isolating sources of contamination or disease, allowing for more targeted recalls and lowering the danger of large outbreaks.
From a customers’ standpoint, QR codes can instantly provide information about food origins and product details which not only improve the reputation of companies but also reassure the customers about the purchase decision they are about to make. Authentic, sustainable, organic and slave free foods are on the raise. Now more than ever it is of the utmost importance to involve customers in a virtual journey that allows them to check for themselves if the premium they are willing to pay for fully transparent and traceable products is worth their money. In this perspective, including videos about the farming community that grew the food, how it was harvested and the organic certifications it has, can help building the trust.
Real time monitoring is another plus of blockchain technology. Sensor technologies (RFID tags, GPS devices, barcodes and other automated systems that allow the identification and tracking of food products even during shipment) have become increasingly prevalent as they are proving to be efficient and effective means of food traceability. Yet, the cost of installing and maintaining sensor technologies – besides the costs associated with software, hardware and training – can be high, thus providing a real challenge for smaller businesses. However, their rising adoption is going to make prices decline and this, combined with the fact that these food traceability systems help prevent fraud, decrease outbreaks, reduce food testing expenses and increase margins, is going to propel the market in the coming years.