EY plans rollout of blockchain platform for Japanese sake

The Japanese unit of global accountancy company EY says it is working on a blockchain-based traceability of Japanese rice wine – or sake – to help distinguish genuine bottles from fakes.

The SAKE Blockchain project will include information on the provenance of the liquor, including its ingredients, where it was brewed, and quality control information such as the temperature of the bottle in the supply chain.

Scanning a QR code on the bottle will also provide information to purchasers, including recommendations on food to pair with the drink, according to a Nikkei Asian Review report, which says the deployment of the system could allow manufacturers to command better prices for their product.

The blockchain backend – which encodes data in a secure and transparent way and keeps a record of each transaction that occurs across a network – means that the data is secure, transparent, and can’t be tampered with, according to EY Japan.

The roll-out of the system has been held up by the global disruption caused by the coronavirus outbreak, but will get going in places like Hong Kong and Singapore once the crisis has abated. It could also help encourage exports of the drink.

In recent years, exports of sake from Japan - also called nihonshu - have increased massively on the back of escalating consumption and demand worldwide. Exports doubled in five years to reach 22.2bn yen (around $200m) in 2018, with the US the top export market by value and growth fastest in China.

EY Japan says it also intends to expand the use of the accountancy group’s EY Ops Chain blockchain platform – based on the public Ethereum blockchain and first launched in 2017 – in other sectors including the Japanese fruit sector, which is booming amid rising global interest in Japanese cuisine.

EY has also deployed Ops Chain for millions of bottles of wine for multiple clients via its TATTOO programme, as well as chickens, eggs and other fresh produce. Merck Animal Health is participating in an exploratory pilot using it to trace animal vaccines.

TATTOO is backed by The House of Roosevelt – one of the largest wine cellars in Asia – which is using it to secure wines sold directly from vineyards to hotels, restaurants, cafes and individual customers.

Image by Samuele Schirò from Pixabay

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