Any non-gamblers will be cringing by now. But if you put the cryptocurrency to one side and do away with all the buzzwords, you discover a new technology which experts celebrate as the biggest thing to happen since the internet was invented. Blockchain has great economic, social and ecological potential, especially for the food industry that has come under critical scrutiny over recent years.
You’re standing in the supermarket and can choose between various different designs of egg boxes. The design of the packaging varies from cute landscapes to an artificial green meadow. Actually all you want to know is where the eggs come from, and perhaps whether the hens really have a good life. Of course if you’ve got lots of time you can work out what the codes mean, but as we know from many food scandals in the past they don’t provide absolute certainty.
Blockchain – the end of the scandals?
According to the World Health Organization about 413,000 people die every year as a result of eating food that is contaminated or has gone off. One in ten illnesses worldwide results from this – affecting 750 million people. The Blockchain technology means that in the not too distant future it will be possible to obtain complete, forgery-proof documentation about the foods that we want to buy – even via our smartphone when we’re actually in the supermarket.
China, the country that has been rocked by food scandals, is experiencing a real organic boom. This gave the ZhongAn company the idea of testing a procedure involving computer chips and automatic facial recognition of the animals. The result is that thanks to Blockchain consumers can view every aspect of the animal’s life. In England facial recognition is being used to monitor the health of entire herds of sheep. It has been found that even slight changes in facial expressions may be the sign of an illness.
However, it’s not just contaminated foodstuffs that are a scandal, but also the excessive amounts of waste.
Worldwide about a third of all foodstuffs that are produced go to waste. This could feed over a billion people. Blockchain has the potential to bring about revolutionary improvements to tackle both problems. Every transaction is fraud-proof and the technology enables the individual processes to be clearly identified and tracked.
Walmart carried out the test: it traditionally takes at least 18 hours to prove the origins of a mango by tracing its route back from the shop to the farm. With Blockchain the necessary information is available in 2.2 seconds. For example, if a safety problem emerges in connection with a product, all the parties involved can respond much more quickly and precisely. The risk to consumers is minimised. The advantage is that it is really only affected products that have to be destroyed, rather than entire stocks of goods, or even the wrong stocks of goods. The basic assumption is that by using this optimised monitoring system waste can be reduced by between 20 and 30 percent.
Another exciting application of the Blockchain technology will make the payment of farmers and producers more transparent, quicker, and therefore fairer. Using this decentralised form of administration eliminates dependence on intermediaries, and consequently also the danger of price tampering. An innovation which will go down well with producers, traders and consumers.
Consumers are looking for healthier foods
Artificial intelligence and the Blockchain technology can make food production more sustainable. Based on automated data management and their own decisions and corrective measures, these technologies can use robots and drones for the early detection and remedying of plant diseases or water shortages. The comparatively cheap, seamless and quick identification of products and merchandise in real-time may also enable defective products to be detected in a targeted and quicker way. This improves the footprint of the whole value chain.