The term blockchain is often thought to be relevant to cryptocurrency alone since Bitcoin was what popularized blockchain in the first place. Many people do not realize that the business applications of blockchain extend far beyond the payment industry.
Blockchain allows digital information to be stored in a decentralized manner. Information is distributed rather than copied from one machine to another. It creates an incorruptible digital ledger that can be quickly verified, and “rogue” transactions rooted out. This ledger cannot be controlled by a single entity, nor does it have a single point of failure.
It makes it ideal for recording financial transactions. Blockchain, however, isn’t limited to just that, the same concept can be applied to store anything of value, thus finding applications in a range of businesses, including even the food industry.
How Can Blockchain Impact the Food Industry
Because of the way blockchain stores information that is incorruptible, it could have a significant impact on the supply chain — a vital component of the food industry (and many other industries for that matter). Blockchain-backed networks have some distinct features that such an industry can benefit from.
Data within a blockchain network is accessible to everyone. Every step in food production, from the supply of ingredients to the manufacturing process to the quality assurance and consumer sale, each step can be recorded and made visible to each stakeholder.
It has a two-pronged effect:
- Any problems in the supply chain such as contamination of a product, break in the cold chain, or delays causing expiry can be quickly identified and resolved.
- Everyone, from the supplier all the way up to the distributor, is prevented from attempting to alter a product or introduce fake goods in the supply chain. The change is immediately detected throughout the network thus identifying the culprit.
Blockchain can make food products much more traceable, from the very beginning down to the very end. It can record where each ingredient came from, which batch used up which set of ingredients and so on. Again, this carries many benefits:
- If certain food products are found to be expired, substandard or harmful, they can be immediately traced back to where they came from. It can save the expense of recalling entire batches if only a few products are bad. Furthermore, suppliers of fake/bad products can be eliminated, thus ensuring food safety at a much greater level.
- Mistakes and human errors can be corrected quickly in case of wrong food items arriving at the wrong places.
Speed and security
Blockchains can be used to validate data and to distribute it out to the network quickly. When applied to the food industry, it can be used to validate transactions quickly, ensure the smooth flow of goods from place to place, and creating the whole process much more secure.
A major advantage of using a technology such as blockchain would be to push the industry towards more ethical practices. In turn, this will create a greater trust degree among consumers.
What do you think about the introduction of blockchains to the food industry? Let us know in the comments section below.