Written by Tomislav Matic, CEO and Co-Founder, Crypto Future
Over the course of the last few years, blockchain technology has become one of the most talked about subjects within tech. Thrust upon the world as the platform on which Bitcoin was built, millions of pounds are being poured into releasing blockchain from its cryptocurrency roots, a move that would benefit a host of industries – and food and drink is a prime example.
A main perk of blockchain for businesses will be its use within the supply chain. Many column inches have been dedicated to how the technology will allow for more streamlined and efficient production processes, but the impact that it will have on the food industry is unique. Stepping away from how it will help the profit margins of a business, the benefits that it can have to human health could be great.
Today, few people are truly aware of the sourcing processes of their food and drink – where it was grown or created and the journey it went through to get to the aisles of your local supermarket. However, the transparency that blockchain technology offers means that this can all become visible from something as simple as scanning a barcode with your phone; all the necessary information popping up on your screen in an instant.
In a world that is becoming much more aware of what it eats – whether someone’s looking to lose weight, gain it, or simply ensure that the products going through their system aren’t full of chemicals – the impact that blockchain technology can have on our eating habits could be huge.
Supermarkets are littered with ‘free range’, ‘organic’ and ‘hand reared’ foods, scattered throughout the shop floor – but they will say anything to sell a product. Did you know, the RSPCA’s law for ‘free range’ breeding requires that there are no more than nine hens per square metre? That means, in the eyes of the RSPCA, 48,600 hens can be bred on a single football pitch and still be called free range. With blockchain, no longer will you have to rely on the description of an item’s packaging to determine its quality – soon enough you will be able to directly look at it yourself.
The implementation of this technology would expose any poor practices throughout the industry, and could potentially benefit consumers in two primary ways. Firstly, these exposed poor practices would be clearly visible, and avoidable should the consumer wish to, resulting in a greater ability to eat and drink healthily. With the easy access to knowledge of production, purchases can be made with absolute certainty of where that product has been sourced.
Secondly, this transparency will force those responsible for the produce to make a conscious effort to improve their production in a bid to avoid the loss of business. As a result, the food industry in general becomes more credible, and bad practices will drop significantly, meaning that even those consumers that don’t pay much attention to the products they’re buying will be purchasing better quality goods.
For the first time ever, consumers will have easy access to the entire process that their produce is going through. The first points that spring to mind are through food; the 2013 horsemeat scandal is only one example where transparency within the supply chain would have put a stop to the poor practices within food production. Once the technology undergoes mass take up, there will be a huge upward shift in the quality of production.
This isn’t limited to food, either; it will branch out across all types of consumable products. In 1985, several Austrian wine distilleries illegally adulterated their wines using a toxic substance called diethylene glycol, which made the wine sweeter and more full bodied. With blockchain technology, that would never happen, as consumers would have the power to scrutinise the supply chain process.
Overall, blockchain technology will lead to an improvement in the quality of produce simply as a result of improved visibility. Those that offer the best supply chains will become more popular and reap the most reward, and in the true spirit of capitalism, this will force competition to follow suit, or go even further – resulting in one continuously improving cycle of better quality sourcing. In all instances, we will see a sharp increase in the quality of production in the food and industry.