Blockchain can help to break down information silos to improve visibility and traceability from the farm to the table, according to a new study from market research firm Chain Business Insights.
“The food supply chain comprises countless players that are functionally and geographically diverse,” Ken Cottrill, co-founder of Chain Business Insights, explains. “Many of these entities are largely unaware of each other, and have very different commercial agendas. This fragmented structure inhibits the free flow of information up and down the supply chain.”
However, current forces require a different configuration of the supply chain. 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 report examines the mid-section 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 report further 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.
As the food business is undergoing an overhaul, “these changes, coupled with long-standing structural issues, pose challenges that lend themselves to blockchain-based supply chain solutions,” notes Peter Harris, co-founder of Chain Business Insights.
“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, another co-founder of 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.”