Research Focuses on Blockchain in Food Supply Chains - Global Trade Magazine
  August 23rd, 2017 | Written by

Research Focuses on Blockchain in Food Supply Chains

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  • How blockchain can help improve visibility and traceability from the farm to the table.
  • The fragmented structure of food supply chains inhibits the free flow of information.
  • Global supply and demand forces are reshaping the market for food products and their supply chains.

Chain Business Insights, an independent research firm focused on the application of blockchain in supply chain management and trade finance, has published its latest research brief. “Blockchain and the Future of Food: Driving Efficiency, Transparency and Trust in Food Supply Chains” explains how blockchain can help to break down information silos to improve visibility and traceability from the farm to the table.

“The food supply chain comprises countless players that are functionally and geographically diverse. Many of these entities are largely unaware of each other, and have very different commercial agendas,” said Ken Cottrill, co-founder and research principal at Chain Business Insights. “This fragmented structure inhibits the free flow of information up and down the supply chain.”

Yet a perfect storm of global supply- and demand-side forces is reshaping the market for food products and their supply chains. Among them are: population growth, the AgTech boom, depleting natural resources, demographic changes, shifting buying patterns, safety concerns, the war on waste, the fight against fraud, and tighter regulations.

The way food is consumed defines the overall structure of the supply chains that deliver it. “Blockchain and the Future of Food” first focuses on the midsection of the foodservice supply chain. It begins with food manufacturers (that receive the raw materials from producers such as farms and fisheries), and ends with the venues that serve food to consumers. This is where the complexities of the supply chain and the rivalries of its stakeholders are especially apparent.

The research brief explains how the traditional retail channel, where consumers buy food products from retailers and prepare meals in the home, differs from the foodservice channels. It also discusses how the rapid growth of online channels in the food business is adding new demands to the supply chain.

“Clearly, the food business is undergoing far-reaching change,” noted Peter Harris, co-founder and research principal at Chain Business Insights. “These changes coupled with long standing structural issues, pose challenges that lend themselves to blockchain-based supply chain solutions.”

Driven by the substantial global business opportunity, several vendors are targeting blockchain-based innovations in the food supply chain. “Blockchain and the Future of Food” contains profiles of 13 companies – from large firms to startups – that are already engaged in a proof of concept in the food industry. Some of this work will likely come to fruition over the next year, but the widespread adoption of blockchain in the food industry is further away.

“Despite the obstacles of implementing blockchain, we believe that the food industry and its supporting supply chains represent one of the most important applications of the technology,” Sherree DeCovny, co-founder and research principal at Chain Business Insights concludes. “Given the potential benefits and promise offered by blockchain-based applications, we believe that it’s not a question of whether they will be implemented – but when.”

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