New blockchain projects coming thick and fast

Hardly a week goes by when another blockchain project aimed at ensuring the provenance of products in the supply chain is launched. Here are a few recent examples from a range of sectors.

Keeping diamonds ethical

South African mining giant De Beers is piloting a blockchain-based system that aims to eliminate so-called ‘conflict diamonds’ – gems mined in war-torn areas and sold to finance armed insurgencies or terrorism. The system will track diamonds from when they are mined to the purchaser, ensuring they are authentic, natural rather than synthetic, and conflict-free. The pilot will “identify key insights and opportunities for enhancement and assess how the platform can be integrated with existing systems and processes, in advance of a full launch later this year,” said the company.

Tracking container shipments

Swiss freight forwarder Agility has agreed to collaborate with shipping line Maersk and tech giant IBM on their recent project to implement blockchain technology to track container shipments, which it says will reduce costs and increase efficiency by cutting documentation and administration costs, estimated to be one-fifth of the $1.8trn spent annually to move goods across borders, whilst also improving security. Maersk and IBM have been piloting the system for more than 18 months with corporations such as DuPont and Dow Chemical as well as port authorities and customs.

Fighting food and pharma fraud

Australian start-up TBSx3 hit the headlines last year when it used blockchain to track a wine shipment from South Australia to China, and has just formalised its relationship with its partners in the project – shipping line Hamburg Sud (a Maersk subsidiary), logistics company DB Schenker, and container port operator DP World Australia. The partners have now set up a consortium to combat the trade in counterfeit goods and “help companies restore consumer trust” in supply chains.

Protecting pure Baikal water

Russian company Baikalika – which extracts water from Lake Baikal to serve a growing demand for premium bottled waters – has turned to blockchain to help it break into emerging markets in China, southeast Asia and the Middle East. It is using blockchain to differentiate its bottled water from fakes. The company adds a QR code on every single bottle, which makes it easier to access product information by simply scanning the code. Baikalika plans to put all the product-related information on its blockchain, including its production details, storage information, and even transit route. It’s also developed its own crypto tokens, with each unit entitling the holder to 1,200 litres of Baikal lake water, delivered over a period of 50 years.

Food traceability

Romana Food Brands of the US is developing a blockchain-based food traceability and control application which it claims will “not only provide our food operation a competitive advantage, but the licensing of our blockchain technology to some of the leading brands of the world will enable Romana to become a leader in the $16bn application market.” The company describes itself as an emerging player in the authentic Italian food sector and is in the process of acquiring processing plants in North America and Italy.

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