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Food Security and Blockchain: What Does the Future Hold for Food Technology?

Food security and blockchain

By adding transparency to the complicated food supply chain, blockchain can aid in the resolution of food supply challenges. Food authenticity is a critical step in identifying and resolving contamination sources all over the world. Food-focused blockchain-based ICO ventures offer a novel method to strive toward these objectives.

The Use of Blockchain to Improve the Food Supply Chain

Businesses and governments have already assessed the potential of blockchain technology. Many governments are wary of cryptocurrencies and distrust them, but they see the benefits that using blockchain technology in other industries may provide. Blockchain technology is gradually extending to new fields of application after gaining prominence in the finance sector. The blockchain is being used across a wide range of industries, from precious-stone trading to pig sales. Blockchain technology will eventually find widespread use in a wide range of human activities.

The Bitcoin network was the first to use blockchain, a decentralised open ledger for immutable-record transactions. Despite this, blockchain has applications far beyond Bitcoin, B2B, and banking, where it is utilised to facilitate anonymous payments. Some analysts believe that blockchain would abolish bureaucracy, lower prices for numerous services, and eliminate intermediaries in all sectors of the economy. They believe that blockchain can help the food industry by creating an open environment in which transactions can be tracked and information about agricultural items can be shared among farmers, customers, and other interested parties.

The lack of a simple and convenient way for modern consumers to assess the quality and safety of food products in retail chains and stores is causing worry. Product quality is entirely dependent on the regulatory authorities' operational efficiency in establishing rules for food product verification, certification, labelling, and quality control.

Participants in the product supply chain confront a number of key issues as internet trade develops and the global food market becomes more competitive:

  • protection against adulterated products

  • improving the transparency of the product supply chain

  • meeting the growing demand for food quality and providing information on its origin

  • improving communication between parties involved in the food supply chain

One of the most serious difficulties in the modern food industry is the lack of reliability, correctness, and transparency of information on food ingredients and their origins, and a transparent supply chain can be considered as the most appropriate solution to assure consistency and credibility.

Food Traceability and Transparency Have Become More Important

Many bizarre and scary food scandals have occurred in recent years, including exploding watermelons, false eggs in China, and luminous beef in Australia. A lack of critical knowledge and control over the product supply chain exacerbates existing food safety challenges such as contamination, the spread of gastrointestinal disorders, waste, and financial loss. Consumers all across the world recognise the importance of private labels, but they remain sceptical about the quality and safety of the ingredients included in the paperwork of any brand. In a Trace One poll, 68 percent of Americans claimed they don't know enough about what's in their food or where it comes from. More than 90% of consumers believe that knowing where their food comes from is very essential.

When a problem arises in the supply chain, it might take days or even weeks to identify and correct the problem. In a recent salmonella outbreak in papaya, for example, it took more than two months to pinpoint the source of illness. According to the World Health Organization, foodborne infections affect 600 million people worldwide, or nearly one out of every ten people, and 420,000 people die each year, the majority of them are children.

Other factors are driving improved traceability and transparency in the food supply chain:

  • According to a survey conducted by The Guardian, 38% of food sold in supermarkets lacks accurate information about its origin, which could have a negative impact on the seller's reputation.

  • According to a survey conducted by PwC and the Safe and Secure Approaches in Field Environments (SSAFE), counterfeit items cost the global economy $40 billion each year.

  • According to a study conducted by PFK Littlejohn, the UK loses £11 billion ($13.6 billion) every year due to beverage and food fraud.

  • According to an Oceana research, the United States' food falsification problem costs the country $25 billion per year. And as the product supply chain grows more multinational, the more potential for food fraud develop.

  • After eating spinach tainted with Escherichia coli in 2006, three individuals died and approximately 200 people became ill. Because the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) couldn't tell which spinach bags contained the illness, Americans were urged to stay away from raw spinach. Producers of spinach suffered a $74 million loss as a result.

  • The 2013 European horse meat scandal shocked the entire food sector, raising concerns about what we eat and where it comes from. Horse flesh was discovered in frozen, purportedly beef burgers from Ireland and the United Kingdom, according to Irish food regulators in mid-January 2013. They included horse DNA, according to tests. The burgers were sold in Tesco, Iceland, Aldi, and Lidl supermarkets in the United Kingdom, as well as Findus and Nestle supermarkets in Europe.

Global food supply-chain security is receiving more attention than it has ever received. Consumers want additional details and assurances that the products they buy are safe and come from reputable suppliers. This is where blockchain can have a beneficial impact and provide a solution to the food industry's difficulties.

The Role of Blockchain in the Food Supply Chain

Blockchain works as a single source of data, allowing for a more transparent control trace and consistency amongst businesses. Food companies can swiftly track problems and determine their source using blockchain technology. This may improve customer safety while also lowering financial losses. Consumer confidence in product quality will rise, and regulatory agencies will have a more powerful weapon for maintaining food safety if manufacturers, suppliers, processors, distributors, and sellers take information from the same distributed register to which they have allowed access. With the use of a decentralised network, food suppliers and other ecosystem participants would be able to locate sources of contaminated items as soon as possible, remove them from the market, and prevent disease spread. Due to the absence of a single susceptible centre, blockchain technology is a distributed network that ensures security. Furthermore, data saved in the blockchain cannot be modified or updated.

All of these aspects have contributed to blockchain's commercial success. Producers will not have to recall all of their items if the need arises: owing to blockchain records, they will be able to quickly determine where the goods are, whether or not they have been sold, and if so, to whom. Another approach for food companies to keep track of their inventory is to use IoT to affix labels to shipments, with each lot receiving its own unique identification number. Individual farms will be identified by these identifiers, which will communicate information such as storage temperature, expiration date, and so on. Employees can easily skip the product using their ID number at each stage of the supply chain, and the unit will accurately trace the product through "checkpoints." Employees can also use an identification number to see real-time product data. The underlying technology's analytical module estimates the number of product units based on a formula. The module issues a permit for their manufacture and issuing codes after accounting for the losses. Everything beyond these codes will be flagged as forged by the system.

The SupplyBloc project, for which the Cryptoauxiliary company offered technical support by refining and implementing the ERC20 token standard, is an excellent illustration of how blockchain may help the food supply chain in three ways: transparency, trackability, and unification. With these three solutions in place, blockchain technology can produce an immutable digital record of the transaction data list. As a result, food supply chain blockchain technology may be the greatest technology for tracking the security and authenticity of commodities as they transit from a food supplier to a store shelf and finally to the end user.

“If there is an issue with an epidemic of Escherichia coli, the blockchain enables us to immediately pinpoint where it came from, while the information will be received in a matter of minutes,” said Marshal Cohen, an analyst with NPD Group, Inc. Indeed, several actions must be taken in order to give people with the food they require and desire. If each store implemented food supply chain blockchain technology and made it available to every smartphone user, it would be enough to enter the product's identification number and date of manufacture printed on the package into the app, and the product's entire history would appear on the user's mobile device's screen.

Agriculture and Blockchain

At a time when international supply chains are getting more complex, the agricultural food business is a complex system that must meet regulatory criteria to achieve social food security benchmarks and maintain customer trust. Consumer demands are increasing, and farmers are under increasing pressure to produce high-quality food. This is where blockchain technology can assist. Because of its unique features, the technology fosters confidence between farmers and consumers while also providing the required openness.

Precision agriculture, often known as satellite farming or site-specific crop management (SSCM), is a farming management concept that involves observing, calculating, and responding to inter- and intra-field crop changeability. Precision agriculture's major goal is to develop a decision support system (DSS) for agricultural management that maximises input reimbursements while conserving resources.

All internationals (John Deere, CNH, Monsanto, BASF, Syngenta) and entire governments are advocating for blockchain implementation in agriculture and the current farming system (such as Industry 4.0 drives by Germany). Precision agriculture uses IoT to handle supply-chain issues, boost yields, and keep track of Big Data around the clock. Farmers deal with these solutions through intelligence unit offices or choose not to use them at all because there are no common standards for them. Farmers, on the other hand, are subjected to massive monopolisation of their suppliers. As a result, another benefit of IoT improvements is the lack of monopoly.

Precision agriculture entails astronomical running expenditures. This is when blockchain's full disruptive power may be seen:

  1. Provenance. Users can monitor where food comes from using a simple QR code and traditional contracts hashed in blockchain. Blockchain also allows for the detection of who attempted to alter the original data and when.

  2. Provenance of the highest order. The blockchain allows all food data to be collected directly from smart metres, allowing contract terms to be verified digitally via IoT. Although Bitcoin-like blockchains might manage it, more flexible platforms such as Ethereum, Cardamom, NEO, EOS, and others would be preferable.

  3. Precision agriculture is now possible thanks to blockchain technology. All IoT devices may use coins thanks to a simple API. There's no need to manage all of your device data standards because blockchain handles it all through tokenization and cryptography. Users will need to look into IOTA, which offers this capability for IoT.

  4. Business procedures that are self-contained. Precision agriculture works without the use of intermediaries in this way. Users could enter the digital world of commerce with the massive power of Ethereum or HyperLedger. Even without the internet, computers undertake automatic activities in a reliable and safe manner (blockchain on MESH networks).

Blockchain is a cutting-edge technology and a market-based method for monitoring a product's origin and distributing that information to the end consumer. This is a powerful weapon in the fight against deception.

IBM Food Safety on the Blockchain

Mistakes and fraud in the supply chain are transparent and easily traceable with blockchain. Consumers are reassured by transparency and honesty that the item they eat is precisely what the label claims. The number of organisations implementing blockchain in their businesses is fast increasing, and blockchain is contributing to several potential breakthroughs in the areas of food safety and authenticity. The entire food supply chain can also be more responsive in the event of a food-safety incident thanks to blockchain.

Blockchain solutions for the financial and logistics industries are already being developed by IBM. These same technologies, which will be implemented as a cloud service, will be utilised to improve food-product transportation control and provide customers with broad information on ingredient origins. In August 2017, ten of the world's leading food firms began working with IBM on integrating food blockchain into their supply chains in order to integrate IBM blockchain food safety solutions in the food supply chain. Walmart, Nestle, Unilever, McCormick, Tyson, Kroger, McLane, Driscoll's, Dole, and Golden State Foods are among the corporations with annual global sales of more than half a trillion dollars.

The IBM blockchain platform for food safety serves three purposes:

  1. Development. Developers can derive networks at a specified speed in just a few minutes using simple, adaptable tools. The initial commercial version of Hyperledger Composer allows them to concentrate on business situations while simplifying and speeding up application code development. Developers may produce ordinary JavaScript for JavaScript, and APIs help to keep the focus on business rather than technology, thus almost any programmer can become a blockchain developer.

  2. Control. The platform provides equal power to all participants without offering anyone exclusive rights. New democratic governance techniques have been developed to increase the efficacy of the organisation through voting. Signatures from all participants are collected when examining suggestions for the distribution of smart contracts and the construction of transaction channels. Organizations may start registering transactions on the blockchain by quickly organising a team, assigning roles, and setting up access control.

  3. Exploitation. More than 55 percent of all global transactional systems are now based on the architecture that supports the platform. This is the first proposal that permits updates to be installed in a network that is up and running. IBM Cloud employs hardware encryption keys and provides unique protection against the misuse of insider credentials and malware in the cloud.

It's worth noting that the HyperLedger framework family is used in all IBM blockchain food safety solutions. Essentially, this is a business-oriented architecture that enables the establishment of a “private Ethereum” with docket-organized data, a virtual machine for Chaincode (the Ethereum smart contract) execution, and the ability to utilise Chaincodes as libraries for other Chaincodes (as well as Ethereum). It outperforms rival systems that offer Turing-complete smart contracts in a number of ways (allows creation of DApp). It offers a variety of Practical Byzantine Fault Tolerance consensuses as well as the possibility to incorporate a low-cost AR/VR, AI/ML, and IBM Watson plug-in, all with no transaction costs. On the other hand, it has scalability issues, and it loses all advantages over platforms like the Ethereum consortium chain, which is meant to sustain millions of users.

Walmart Uses Blockchain to Improve Food Safety

Walmart has patented a new approach to use blockchain technology to create a smart delivery-tracking system using gadgets that record information on the blockchain based on the contents of the package, surrounding features, location, and other criteria. According to Walmart, online shopping has forced retail chains to take on new supply challenges, particularly in the supply of perishable goods that must be kept at a specific temperature. Buyers on the internet are looking for items that require certain transit circumstances. Security during the transportation of products is also crucial. The food blockchain component will be encrypted into the device and will contain information regarding key supply chain addresses, hashing with the seller, courier, and buyer's key addresses. Walmart intends to leverage blockchain technology in areas other than supply chains. The trading behemoth plans to employ the food blockchain system to improve the product-tracking process in collaboration with Kroger, Nestle, and other food producers, as well as IBM blockchain food safety solutions.

Issues like food supply safety and sustainability should be considered as people become more aware of the quality of their food. Food blockchain technology could be the answer to some of today's most pressing food supply challenges, as well as a way to improve commerce and our general health. Counterfeit or contaminated food items can be eradicated by employing blockchain in agriculture and making supply networks transparent. All parties involved in food production and distribution may develop a new level of confidence, while consumers can be informed of where their food comes from and be certain of its quality and authenticity. The future of our food's lifetime is brighter thanks to blockchain.

For additional information, please contact the Cryptoauxiliary team.

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