Blockchain ‘could save food sector $31bn by cutting fraud’

Widespread adoption of blockchain could save the food industry a whopping amount of money by 2024 by reducing the risk of food fraud.

A report by Juniper Research says the savings from being able to accurately track food across the supply chain – an incredible $31bn – would come from avoiding frauds such as mislabelling, dilution or substitution, as well as from slashing the cost of complying with regulations by 30 per cent.

Using blockchain with Internet of Things (IoT) sensors and trackers that can link the physical and digital worlds will “reduce retailers’ costs by streamlining supply chains; offering simpler regulatory compliance and efficient food recall process,” says the report.

“By replacing lengthy procedures with automated smart contracts, blockchain and the IoT bring cost reductions, risk mitigation and transparency to supply chains,” according to UK-based Juniper.

The research suggested that IoT and blockchain will add significant value to players involved in the supply chain, from farmers to retailers and consumers.

The research also found that the leading players in the food provenance space include IBM’s Food Trust and Watson platforms, SAP’s Track and Trace and Leonardo platforms, as well as Oracle’s Track and Trace, and Internet of Things solutions.

Some companies are already starting to adopt these technologies. Last month for example, French supermarket chain Carrefour and Nestlé said they are using IBM’s platform to track and trace infant formula.

US fair trade seafood company Bumble Bee Foods is using SAP Leonardo to improve the transparency of its supply chain, tracking every fish caught and allowing purchasers to discover its provenance via a QR code.

Meanwhile, Oracle has worked with Italian olive oil company Bellucci to try to improve customer confidence in its products in the face of widespread adulteration in the olive oil sector.

“Today, transparency and efficiency in the food supply chain are limited by opaque data forcing each company to rely on intermediaries and paper-based records,” says research author Dr Morgane Kimmich.

“Blockchain and the IoT provide an immutable, shared platform for all actors in the supply chain to track and trace assets; saving time, resources and reducing fraud.”

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