Can you imagine in an era where we expect our food to be prepared by robots and delivered by drones, we are still struggling to locate the food sources? However unnatural it might sound but is true. Had it not been the case, 600 million people every year would not have fallen sick across the globe which accounts for almost 10% of the population of the world. According to sources, the susceptibility to food-borne diseases has been increasing eventually. Subsequently, the medical costs are shooting up and there are countries where medical expenses are huge.
Prevention of outbreaks of food-borne diseases has become extremely crucial due to the globalization of the food supply chain. For each finished food product, ingredients come from some remote parts of the world where food handling practices are not stringent or careful. Therefore, tracking of food from farm to plate, reporting and recalling of contaminated food should happen in real time. Moreover, the process should be very precise.
Food suppliers have already brought a few digital tools in place to optimize the journey of food from source to plate. Food supply companies have introduced smart sensor packaging which means embedding packaging with smart sensors. Despite the adoption of these techniques, fraudulence in the global food industry has been a multi-billion dollar problem. This problem has been duping consumers for years altogether. Subsequently, food manufacturers across the globe are worried. 39 percent of them are worried about their products getting easily counterfeited and 40 percent of them say that it’s tough to detect food contamination.
After having dealt with blockchain for so many years, I have realized that the potential of this technology is massive. Blockchain technology is effective in the prevention of fraud and strengthening of security. Therefore, it can combat agricultural fraud and improve the safety of food. Some blockchain companies are already on it. They are conducting several tests. The tests that have already been performed so far include the tracking of wine from grapes to bottle and tracking the entire supply chain of coffee, i.e. the journey of coffee beans through international trade.
Let me take you through one of the early trials of a blockchain system. It had happened back in 2016 when Walmart tried collecting information about the pork being raised in China. Besides tracking the source or origin of the product, blockchain systems also help in the prevention of counterfeiting of products. However, the concern regarding food tracking still remains neck-deep. Although blockchain systems are secure yet their data are accurate as per their entry. If fraudsters counterfeit certifications of organic processes or farm inspections, chances are high that the data that are entered on blockchain systems would not be genuine. On the other hand, most of the food produced in developing countries like India or Africa is produced at a small scale where there is no internet connectivity or access to technology. Deploying expensive blockchain systems at such areas is a far-sighted dream. According to blockchain entrepreneurs, research on developing cheaper systems with the same performance are in the pipeline.