Cases of food contamination, counterfeits and requests from consumers for more information on the origin of food are increasing the demand for solutions, both system and global, which can show all actors in the supply chain how to certify traceability and the processing of the processed, distributed and sold product.
Food safety passes through platforms capable of guaranteeing transparency, traceability throughout the Agrifood chain, and which know how to give confidence to the consumer who is attentive to Made in Italy and sustainability. They must be able to check and identify fraud and avoid counterfeiting with greater ease. It is on these needs that IBM's Food Trust solution based on Blockchain technology is placed.
IBM Food Trust designates a collaborative network that connects growers, processors, wholesalers, distributors, producers, retailers and other actors in the food industry and which, thanks to the exchange of information in safety along the entire supply chain, strengthens visibility, builds trust, provides transparency and guarantees the reliability of the entire production and commercial ecosystem, assigning a renewed value to the relationship between brands, territories and the final consumer.
Based on IBM's Blockchain technology, this solution connects participants to the network through a reliable, authorized, immutable and shared record of data concerning the origin of a food product, transaction and location data, processing details and more. A Blockchain solution does not only concern technology, but solves business problems that were previously insoluble due to the difficulties of ecosystems, the food one in this case, to share information in a transparent, unchangeable and reliable way.
“The need for a Blockchain arises from a typical problem of the industrial chain: the data resides in silos that do not communicate directly with each other and is limited by the gates of each company; many transactions are still paper-based, creating inefficiency and fraud opportunities; the exchange of information between the remote actors requires intermediaries, huge times and resources. So that it is possible to trace the supply chain, the problem is to gain value in redeveloping it, managing it and exposing it from start to finish without suffering from intermediaries, downtime, scarce resources, different format of digital data, lack of trust between the parties and so on" says Giuseppe Reale, a blockchain expert.
And this is where Blockchain comes to the rescue as a data aggregation and sharing platform that guarantees certainty and immutability of information. But the main function of the Blockchain is not to certify information but to notarize information, to found it with an authoritative attribute in an end-to-end collaboration framework. Guarantee a trust, an extended and true guarantee of trust in every point and easily available without risks of manipulation or dispute.
The solution is aimed at the typical actors of the Agrifood chain, from the breeder, to the farmer, to the transformer, to the logistics, to the retailer, to the distributor, even to the authorities responsible for regulating the sector without forgetting the final consumer who thus have access to the verifiable record of immutable data that discourages fraudulent behavior.
It uses the Blockchain to address a series of problems within the Agrifood ecosystem. Problems that are to be found in the need to trace the location and status of a product upstream and downstream along the supply chain; guarantee reliability and responsibility with instant access to digitized records and documents; provide access and aggregation of supply chain data to extend product freshness, in other words, duration and finally, include new partners to expand functionality and spread new value along the food system through APIs.
The IBM Blockchain is "served" through IBM Cloud and guarantees compatibility with GS1 standards widely used in the world of the Agrifood industry for systems linked to product traceability and to guarantee at the same time levels of interoperability between systems and between companies.
Carrefour started a project linked to the chicken and poultry meat supply chain which then extended to citrus fruits, to ensure the quality of the Agrifood chains that serve their stores relying on the characteristics of the Blockchain. Specifically, the first step of this project saw Carrefour Italia engaged in the collection and certification of the data of 29 farms, two feed mills and a slaughterhouse to provide customers with increasingly precise and reliable information on the quality of the product that they find on their shelf.
The objective of Carrefour Italia was to put the main feature of the blockchain to value for its customers: security in the certification of the data provided by all operators for the benefit of information to be made available to consumers on the quality of the product that they find on their shelf in the Carrefour Italia stores. Complete traceability throughout the supply chain with the participation, thanks to the blockchain, of all the actors to define a model to be extended to other supply chains, starting from that of citrus fruits.
Customers can use a QR Code present on the product packaging and will be able to access the data of each product with the support of an interface created by Carrefour Italia that accesses data based on the Blockchain.
Nestlé turned to Blockchain technology to ensure the security of its supply chain, in particular by restricting the ingredients that enter their puree and bags of baby food.
In the wake of the fear of salmonella that contaminated 7,000 tons of baby milk powder and milk powder in France in early 2018, as well as the E. Coli epidemic that hit lettuce in the United States, food traceability has become more important than ever.
Nestlé began experimenting with blockchain in the fall of 2017, tracking down the single ingredient Libby canned pumpkin from farms to shelves.
The Blockchain applied to food monitoring helps to identify the source of food contamination and can help improve public safety by reducing the time for the recognition of diseases.
This is what happened to Walmart, who started from a need for security due to a bacterial contamination of a batch of salad production and who then enlarged the project to the entire supply chain. After conducting a pilot project to demonstrate immediate end-to-end traceability, Walmart launched an initiative to have all leafy vegetable suppliers on the Blockchain within a year. Walmart has been able to reduce the tracking time from days to seconds.
The collaboration between IBM and Farmer Connect has set itself the objective of creating a "direct line" between the protagonists of the coffee supply chain, such as the producer and the barista, bridging the gap between the beginning and the end of the complex process treatment plant characterized by fragmented and heterogeneous information. Farmer Connect has decided to leverage IBM Blockchain technology to encourage traceability, efficiency and equity in the coffee supply chain.
At CES 2020 in Las Vegas, they announced the new application to offer coffee enthusiasts the opportunity to learn about its origin and quality, but also to support the farmer who has grown the beans, in a perspective that allows to address in a complete way themes that directly impact on the sustainability of production. Consumers can play an active part in sustainability projects by supporting coffee farmers in developing countries.
The collaboration between Coop Italia and IBM concerns the application of the Blockchain to the production of Coop brand eggs, from the commercial development of the idea of the French Startup Connecting food, aimed at the complete traceability of fresh organic eggs from the Coop Vivi Verde line. The solution allows for full transparency and visibility of the various actors involved in the Coop brand egg production chain, involving a total of 2 million hens for over 200 million eggs produced per year.
The agreement with IBM sees as the first testing ground the certification and traceability, through Blockchain technology, of Aliveris pasta, an organic pasta that comes from 100% Italian organic wheat with Bio Soybean and bronze drawing, to then be also extended to other products of the Umbrian group. The project was carried out in collaboration with an IBM Business Partner from Perugia, Sas Informatica, who took care of making the product data and the entire production process available to the platform.
Consumers can thus find information on the history of the product, but only those authorized can add and check the information, based on its role in the supply chain. This allows us to assign clearly and unchangeably the responsibilities of what will be inserted and to manage any event in real time in complete safety. The purpose of the IBM Food Trust platform in the food sector, in fact, is to offer maximum transparency and confidence to end consumers who, thanks to this type of certification, will have greater guarantees on the quality of the product they purchase.
Will blockchain transform the agrifood sector?