When the boss says, “get me a blockchain strategy for food safety”, where do you start? If you’ve already started, are you finding yourself in unchartered territory? Are you having to make significant decisions that impact your team? Are you in control of the outcome? If any of this sounds familiar, let’s talk.
Blinded by Technology
Over the past 18 months or so, the term blockchain has been seen as the silver bullet solution to secure trust, food safety and traceability, as well as helping solve other industry problems such as network management and improving shopper engagement-loyalty. As a result, many brands and retailers have rushed to innovate or create blockchain products. And, almost overnight, many IT and service providers are marketing their “blockchain” solutions.
What to Expect?
If you are already on your blockchain journey, you’ve probably experienced what I’m about to describe. Your blockchain project starts! Immediately, you’re offered an array of solutions from IT and consulting firms – yet all seemingly offering the same thing, while calling it ‘bespoke’. Unable to really differentiate, you choose the safe option of a well-known provider.
But you soon find yourself becoming more and more reliant on your chosen provider, with your role becoming more of a coordinator – or worse, a bystander – for your own project, while time and costs continue to increase.
Avoiding Pitfalls and Managing Expectations
If you find your situation like the one described, read on! Let’s return to the basics of why blockchain solutions are appealing to many in the food safety community.
Blockchain works when all participants across the value chain and their inputs to the blockchain (i.e. the data they provide) are known and verified to be trustworthy. For blockchain to really work, it needs to be freely accessible to all participants from farm to fork — how else can you know the truth of where foods have traveled from or are travelling to; or who is responsible for safety and compliance; or most importantly, who is at risk and how to alert them if needed? For blockchain to work at scale, the control must be distributed; that means putting it into the hands of each participant across the value-chain.
Some thoughts for your success in choosing a food safety blockchain solution:
- Ready for you and your team to use.
- Is viral in nature.
- Sufficiently scalable to meet the needs of your enterprise, cross functional teams (e.g. procurement, regulatory, compliance) and those you connect to.
- Simple to understand and easy to use, from onboarding suppliers to placing QR codes on labels.
- Low cost to onboard and operate for both you and your suppliers, and their suppliers and so forth.
- Convinces your suppliers to transparently share their information.
- Traceability within seconds, from fork to farm, and from farm to fork, and fluidly maintains a complete chain of custody ledger to all sources and end users.
- Can detect off chain suppliers and products.
- Can detect non-conformance of suppliers and products.
- Can distinguish true and current information from outdated or false information
- Can mitigate food adulteration, outbreaks and recalls
Today, companies are challenged by their inability to achieve transparency, traceability and trust throughout their supply chains. Blockchain is not a silver bullet solution — if not defined and deployed well according to the above principles, blockchain will not solve this dilemma.
Building Blocks for the Future
The food and technology landscape are both complex and ever changing — as are the numerous ways to tackle food safety, compliance, and prevention. One certainty is that shoppers have become smarter and their buying habits have changed dramatically by their ability to find information in a single click. As a result, today, brands and retailers are more pressured to compete on values, product claims and information, next to service and price, than at any other time in history.
Today, we’re seeing that deployment-ready blockchain solutions can rejuvenate and even transform relationships between brands, retailers and shoppers. It will soon be the ‘killer app’. And whoever isn’t in the game, will be left behind. The big risk for food professionals, however, is their ability (or inability) to distinguish the posers from performers, what deployment-ready really means and how to apply it now, so to realise early tangible and measurable gains. What blockchain can do and how we can use it is rapidly evolving.
What if I told you that the process of deploying a blockchain solution should be relatively fast like in minutes to hours, and easy and not demand a massive investment? Based on deployment-ready solutions available now, significant benefits, the least of which are transparency and traceability can be realised early on and can be easily repeated and scaled along your supply chain. If the solution you’re considering cannot perform these simple functions, it’s time to reevaluate. Using turnkey blockchain solutions is as easy as building your profile on a social media site. Rest assured that you do not have to understand the full intricacies of the blockchain. The best blockchain tools are self-serve – those you immediately understand and can use to deploy any smart contract to anyblockchain for virtually any application. All while including the core benefits of blockchain, like shared ledger and immutable records.
Blockchain Working for You
There is no doubt in our minds that the industry is now ready for an agile, self-configurable and deployment- ready blockchain solution; in the truest sense.
At Greenfence, we believe any company should be able to build and deploy on private or public blockchains in a matter of minutes. No middlemen should stand between you and your supply chain and you and your data. Industries are starting to move to peer-to-peer driven communities. Siloed and fragmented organisations are giving way to open, inclusive approaches that leverage economies of scale, while preserving privacy, competition and trade secrets. In turn, blockchain can deliver sustainable shared value for all.
Greenfence will show you how to build your supply chain on an easy to use, fast scaling, industrial grade blockchain in just minutes. Join our Special Session on Wednesday February 27th from 8:15 to 9:15 a.m. and connect with us at stand #27 in the GFSI Village.
This post was written and contributed by:
SVP Blockchain Systems & Applications