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Anuga FoodTec India 2022

Blockchain technology in food traceability - Not just a buzzword


Photo - Chunumunu via iStock

Published By - FoodTechBiz Desk


Consumers' trust and propensity to make purchases must increase as the food chain becomes more sustainable. For locating and addressing sources of contamination, which aids in the management of sustainability in agri-food chains, tracking and verifying the data along the entire food supply chain is essential.

Food quality and safety management rely heavily on traceability. Conventional Internet of Things (IoT) traceability systems offer workable options for tracking food supply chain quality and traceability. But most IoT devices are not solutions that rely on the centralized server-client paradigm, which makes it challenging for customers to obtain complete transaction data and trace the provenance of goods.

A blockchain is a digital system for recording trade transactions among multiple trading parties in a tamperproof way. Food supply chains are a perfect fit for this distributed and decentralized record-keeping system. Blockchain record-keeping allows a vast number of trading partners to transact privately, anonymously, and securely. No central intermediary is needed for these transactions to occur. 

Operational mechanisms of blockchain-based traceability

Throughout the supply chain lifespan, a tracking technology that is transparent and immutable, like blockchain, can be valuable. Data about a food product can be recorded and updated on blockchain ledgers as it passes various checkpoints, allowing users to see the entire product's journey. Distributors and merchants can quickly identify the last handlers, locations, and documentation times of a shipment if it is missing or contaminated. Blockchain technology is already being used by large food firms to enhance traceability, prevent fraud, and enhance responsiveness to contamination and food-related illness. Expanding and formalizing its usage will require FDA (Food and Drug Administration) leadership.

Food safety- A major concern

Due to expanding worldwide supply chains, food safety is a major concern for consumers and regulators. According to the estimates of the World Health Organisation (WHO), one in ten people globally falls ill due to food contamination each year and 420,000 lose their lives annually. Children under five are most at risk, with 125,000 dying from foodborne illnesses yearly.

Increasing transparency using blockchain

With the help of blockchain, it is now easier to swiftly identify potential contamination sources and effectively stop, contain, or stop epidemics. The legitimacy of a brand can be increased by using transparency with blockchain food traceability to verify and authenticate food origin. The capacity to better combat outbreaks and avoid fraud are two further advantages: reduced costs associated with food testing and increased profit margins.

Disadvantages of blockchain

There are several intrinsic limitations to the application of blockchain technology for food traceability. For blockchain to function, all participants and points of communication must be involved. Additionally, it is up to the data collectors to maintain data integrity, which calls for a system of validation to thwart tampering. The greatest barrier to adoption is the need for a standardized system with unambiguous rules and laws.

Challenges to blockchain in the food industry 

For food traceability, blockchain is not a one-size-fits-all solution and has several limitations. These include organizational and cultural opposition, data quality and integrity concerns, legal and regulatory uncertainties, and technical complexity and interoperability brought on by many blockchain platforms and protocols. The enormous and varied data sets in the food business present technical problems, and data integrity is only assured for data uploaded into the blockchain. Additionally, blockchain presents concerns about data security, ownership, privacy, and compliance in various contexts and industries. Finally, it might call for a change in thinking and behavior from conventional business practices, which might arouse suspicion or criticism from some stakeholders.

How the food industry can overcome them

It is crucial to use some best practices to meet the problems facing the food business. This entails working together and co-creating with other stakeholders to agree on the objectives and standards of blockchain as well as testing the viability, feasibility, and desirability of blockchain solutions using pilot projects. To fully utilize the benefits of blockchain, it is also critical to educate and engage the public about it and to innovate and adapt to the shifting demands and expectations of the market.

Switching to blockchain

Blockchain is advancing the financial and manufacturing industries in terms of process improvement and increased productivity. The migration to blockchain will ultimately be driven by the need to remain competitive, even as the agrifood industry embraces the advantages of blockchain technology. Because of the nature of markets, competitors must remain relevant to exist.

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