Blockchain is the digitisation of the supply chain to provide precise traceability. It can give us assurances on authenticity and provenance; modern slavery; product yields and waste reduction; raw material and water usage efficiencies; as well as quickly giving us visibility of food safety and quality in complex supply chains.
There is a detailed white paper explaining blockchain by Campden BRI that you can download here:
Whitepaper: Blockchain and emerging approaches supporting food safety management systems
It defines a blockchain as:
“A blockchain, in simple terms, is a growing list of records (called blocks) that are linked using cryptography. Each block contains a cryptograph hash of the previous block, a timestamp, and transaction data”
The white paper looks at the history and development of blockchain technology in light of events such as the “horsegate” scandal and its links to systems like bitcoin.
It shows how the history of a product from origin to where it is in the present time can be traced through blockchain. This is very useful in determining the country of origin or PDO.
The white paper explains the limitations of blockchain, for example it is only as good as the information that is input. There is some debate as to whether is is superior to existing traceability systems.
Blockchain is still in its infancy and is likely to become a dominant system so the food business should engage with it to ensure it is as useful as it could be.