March 23, 2021
As demand grows for thorough information regarding the origins of the food consumers purchase, more and more companies are digitally delivering this information. During the recent Professional Dairy Producers (PDPW) business conference in Wisconsin Dells, Wis., Philip Harris, co-founder and president of ripe.io, described the extent to which food corporations use blockchain technology to track information along each step of the supply chain.
“The future of food is in a state of change, especially since the start of the pandemic,” Harris said. “The day will come where this level of traceability will be required to sell in the marketplace – the consumers are going to demand it.”
As it pertains to the food supply, blockchain is an efficient and decentralized way to secure a timeline of analytical information from the farm, processor, distributor and retailer so every ingredient’s source is traceable. Harris compared the food supply and its trend toward blockchain as paralleling Spotify, Amazon, and Netflix in their users’ relationship with music, books, and movies.
“I foresee the day when nutrition labels will each have a QR code so consumers can use their phone to access the history of nearly every ingredient in that item,” Harris said. “In fact, some companies are already supplying this information.”
As blockchain data distribution continues to evolve, Harris indicated restaurants will have the ability to share the carbon footprint of every menu item in addition to its calorie count and nutrition facts.
“Larger companies feel they’ll lose their competitive advantage if they don't adapt to traceability and sustainability demands from the end user,” Harris said. “Now more than ever, the consumer is engaged and involved. Their buying habits are based on much more than cost and availability.”
Processors will one day financially incentivize dairy producers to provide information about each cow, including a history of ration, breeding, health and wellbeing, Harris predicts. He also believes most commercial food producers will eventually need to supply this information because the upper supply chain will demand it.
He recommends producers get a leg up by keeping good records so data will be available when the time comes to integrate it into a blockchain system.
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