Posts Tagged ‘coffee’

A Blockchain Feast

January 6, 2020

Hope everybody had wonderful holidays and feasted to your heart’s content.  Did you, by chance, think about the data involved in that feast? No, not the calories you consumed but the data that tracked the food you consumed from the farm or ranch through numerous processing and shipping steps to finally arrive at your table.  Well, maybe next time.

Apple Pie: Courtesy of IBM

The IBM Food Trust, which is built on blockchain, enables sellers and consumers to trace their food from farm to warehouse to kitchen, explains IBM. For more eco- and safety-conscious diners, IBM continues, this information is crucial for ensuring a safer, smarter, more transparent and sustainable food ecosystem. The company, unfortunately, hasn’t yet said anything about  Food Trust counting calories consumed.

As IBM describes it, the Food Trust is a collaborative network of growers, processors, wholesalers, distributors, manufacturers, retailers, and others, enhancing visibility and accountability across the food supply chain. Built on IBM Blockchain, this solution connects participants through a permissioned, immutable, and shared record of food provenance, transaction data, processing details, and more.

To date, IBM reports more than 200 companies participate in Food Trust, the first network of its kind to connect participants across the food supply chain through a permanent and shared record of data. The result, according to the company,  is a suite of solutions that improve food safety and freshness, unlock supply chain efficiencies, minimize waste, and empower consumers who care about where their food comes from. 

Take chicken, for example, if you can  shop at the European grocery chain Carrefour, where chicken is being tracked by IBM Food Trust alongside a mix of other foods, like eggs, milk, oranges, pork and cheese.  This selection of foods will grow by more than 100 over the next year, says the company, but so popular is the blockchain-tracked chicken, claims IBM, that the grocer reports sales growth exceeding that of non-blockchain poultry.

Carrefour shoppers just use their smartphones to scan QR codes on the chicken’s packaging. What they will find is information on the livestock’s date of birth, nutrition information and packing date. Sounds interesting until my wife feels obligated to send the chicken a birthday gift.  Customers also learn about the food’s journey from farm to store, providing additional transparency about the life and times of this chicken. It said nothing, however, about whether it lived a wild youth.

Maybe you wonder if your seafood is correctly labeled and sustainably caught. IBM is turning to  blockchain to bring more trust and transparency to the supply chain of the fish and seafood we consume.  Specifically, the sustainable Shrimp Partnership now uses blockchain to trace the journey of Ecuadorian farmed shrimp and attest to the highest social and environmental standards. 

Similarly, the seafood industry in Massachusetts is tracing the provenance of fresh scallops. It also allows consumers in restaurants to use a QR code to learn about the seafood’s quality and origin. That’s something I might actually do. Finally, the National Fisheries Institute has joined the Food Trust Network in an effort to trace multiple seafood species.

IBM is trying to do the same with coffee, pasta, mashed potatoes, and more. This is something that I might actually grow to rely on if it were readily available and dead simple. One question is how accessible this information will be when a shopper or diner really needs it. OK, we can all use QR codes as long as they are right in front of us. But beyond that, as a diner I’m too impatient to bother to do much more.

This blog has periodically been following blockchain for years, always expecting the technology to take off imminently.  Maybe with Food Trust the technology will finally pick up some traction.

DancingDinosaur is Alan Radding, a veteran information technology analyst, writer, and ghost-writer. Follow DancingDinosaur on Twitter, @mainframeblog, and see more of his work at http://technologywriter.com/ 


%d bloggers like this: