The benefits of blockchain have been touted far and wide in the context of financial systems and government services, but supply chains also stand to gain from the technology. This is because transparency through enriched data is blockchain’s defining feature – and a rock-solid enabler of ‘farm-to-fork’ traceability in the food industry.
The ability to trace a product from its origin point to the moment of consumption isn’t just useful in giving customers insights into what they’re eating, how it was made or grown and where it came from. Traceability also enhances the integrity of the food sector by ensuring comprehensive quality checks, rapid responses to recalls and decentralized supply chain management. The result is lower costs, efficient processes, reliable quality assurance, increased trust between supply chain parties and informed end consumers.
In current practice, detailed information about products and supply chain transactions is often scattered across siloed systems and partners without being shared. This leads to costly operational inefficiency, slower response to recalls and little insight into product journeys and quality, impacting the brand’s image.
Using a blockchain-based system, supply chain participants such as farmers, transporters and processors add blocks of information to a platform connected to the blockchain distributed ledger. Each additional block – containing information about how the product was raised, transported, processed or handled – can be viewed by all participants, which can add their digital signatures to the block to indicate their approval. The digital signatures are saved in the blockchain itself, and once a ‘majority approval’ is reached, they serve as proof of the authenticity of the product and its journey.
From processing steps and product quality checks to payments and passport exchanges, blockchain solutions bring advantages to the supply chain along a development continuum that begins with end-to-end traceability. Simple transactions such as processing and inbound/outbound movements are the only starting requirements for a basic solution.
From there, new levels of digital collaboration can be achieved. Think of automated O2C/P2P flows based on smart contracts, or the use of sensor data from Internet of Things solutions, such as weighing bridges and temperature control systems. Even further, forecasting could be done in a collaborative way across the supply chain, keeping the bullwhip effect under control. By unlocking advanced technologies such as analytics, trend analysis and artificial intelligence, there is no telling what additional opportunities the platform could offer.
If this rich supply chain data is shared among all participants, it could lead to the holistic optimization of all supply chain processes from start to finish, to the benefit of all partners.
Instead of relying on a limited and expensive supply chain platform offered by a third party, your own tailored blockchain-based solution for digital collaboration is within your reach – with delaware’s help and full cooperation with your partners.
With traceability as a starting point, our team can work with you to craft a tailored blockchain-based solution for digital collaboration. Using Hyperledger, our blockchain experts have developed a backend blockchain template specifically for food companies that is hosted on Microsoft Azure and linked to your ERP system. Alternatively, transactions can be entered through a customizable web application, and a mobile app can be used to scan QR codes to display the full supply chain. The result is a platform that facilitates transparency and the first step towards true digital collaboration.
Eager to find out what blockchain can bring to your unique food business? Get in touch with one of our experts.