The blockchain is almost exclusively connected to bitcoins but in reality, it is a technology that in the medium / long term could change the rules of the economic and financial market.
What is blockchain – explained simply:
It is a “blockchain” on which all payments are recorded and can be seen as an automatic notarial register. Let’s take an example: today when making a payment the transaction is registered by a bank. Using bitcoins and the blockchain instead the transaction does not go to the bank but is recorded on an online server network. The blockchain is public and in this way it is possible to track the payment. We think for example of charity when we make a small payment to support a non-profit body. Indeed we do not know where the money donated will go, as the money is managed by the operator and we cannot even be sure if they will all end up in charity or only a part. In case of use of the blockchain instead, we could know exactly all the steps of our donation.
The blockchain and the food industry
The blockchain system is now being tested in several sectors, including that of the food industry. Companies such as Walmart (the world’s largest supermarket chain) and Nestlè are testing this technology.
Why should blockchain be used in the food industry?
The two giants of the food delivery system are experimenting with it to prevent contaminated food. In fact, it happens more and more often to hear about cases of spoiled food, such as recently that of eggs contaminated with Fipronil.
According to the World Health Organization, every year in the world, one in ten people gets sick and about 420,000 die from food. There are many pathogenic factors that can act, among them, there are bacteria, toxins, viruses, chemicals.
Returning to the example of eggs, the problem was not only contamination but also tracing back to the distribution channel and production plant. For this reason, weeks passed before removing the eggs from the market and the infection spread.
This depends on the fact that an effective food traceability system is not yet active, which can easily identify the origin of the products.
Using the blockchain it is possible to trace all the payments made in the distribution channel, from agricultural production to industrial transformation, up to wholesale and retail distribution. In the example of contaminated eggs, the company that produced them would have been traced back immediately, thus avoiding contamination.
For these reasons, the two food giants mentioned above, to strengthen consumer confidence, have decided to test IBM’s Blockchain system in China and the United States and to date, the results have been positive.
Why could blockchain be important for the food sector?
Some food products of a specific location are appreciated all over the world. Unfortunately, however, we are victims of counterfeiting and often when we go abroad we find on the shelves of the best-known supermarkets counterfeit products sold for 100% of the people from that specific location or country. The fight against counterfeiting seems like an endless battle that has a significant impact on the national GDP.
The blockchain, however, could help us and solve this problem: let’s imagine that the whole food system is based on the “chain of blocks” and on each product, there is a QR Code from which you can detect the entire path supported by a single food product, from the agricultural production company to the distribution company. In the case of a mozzarella present on a supermarket shelf in the United States, it would be clear where it came from, what the intermediate steps were, and whether it was “modified” during the distribution process.
What impact would it have?
Using a little imagination we could find inside a supermarket a section dedicated only to “made in USA” products, as happens today for products for sushi, for vegans, or for organic fruit/vegetables. The big chains tend more and more to create special sections within the store to increase customer satisfaction and facilitate the purchase of products considered “niche”.