Apr 18, 2022
Carrefour has become the first retailer to use blockchain technology with its own branded organic products.
The distributed ledger technology behind bitcoin enables consumers to scan the QR code on a label to access information about the life cycle of a product, including:
- Its origin and the pathway it has taken: Producer name, field location, packaging location and transport means;
- Its quality: Harvest date, analysis results, variety and seasonality;
- Its organic certification: Conversion date, official certificate and additional initiatives implemented by the producer.
“By using this technology with our organic products for the first time, we are delivering on our aim of becoming the leader in the food transition for everyone,” Benoît Soury, Carrefour organic market director, said in a statement.
Blockchain systems store data securely and in a tamper-proof manner. Potentially replacing paper processes and disjointed data systems, the enhanced data visibility from blockchain promises to more quickly resolve food safety issues as well as overcome inaccurate supply and demand predictions, manual errors, counterfeiting and compliance violations.
Walmart began using IBM’s Food Trust blockchain technology to track lettuce and spinach in 2018, but the technology has been only slowly gaining traction despite the hype around cryptocurrencies.
Hurdles slowing mainstream adoption include a general lack of knowledge on blockchain and its applications, customization issues and challenges correlating the multiple ways data can be submitted.
Before being widely used, costs likely need to come down, although heightened recordkeeping requirements being proposed by the Food and Drug Administration for food safety is expected to incentivize adoption to help scale blockchain-based food tracing, according to The Wall Street Journal.
Jan Beránek, CEO and founder of U+, a tech consulting firm, believes a business case still has to be made for suppliers to replace current tracking and compliance methods, such as GS1. He recently told Food Engineering magazine, “In order to justify building or integrating a blockchain solution within their business, it would need to provide additional revenue, save costs, provide a competitive advantage or meet compliance requirements.”
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Do you see blockchain technology making a breakthrough soon in tracking and tracing products across the supply chain? What’s holding back adoption at this point?
“Product availability issues and consumer demand for product data will speed up blockchain adoption.”