For retailers, a serious threat to this trust is food fraud and waste, which poses a risk both to the bottom line but also to health and safety. In fact, according to a recent WHO report, an estimated 600 million – almost one in 10 people in the world – fall ill after eating contaminated food.
The need for food transparency
Today’s consumers want to know that their food is safe and of high quality. They also want to know about its origin, and sometimes even want to know details about the farmers who originally grew the ingredients. But retailers aren’t always able to provide this security because of inefficient and opaque supply chain networks. This lack of transparency doesn’t only pose a threat from a trust perspective; food fraud and waste increasingly contribute to revenue loss.
At the same time, retailers are looking for ways to better monitor products throughout their lifecycle and provide that information to their consumers as food quality rules and regulations are becoming stricter. It’s now critical that the supply chain become more visible to not just vendors, but also the end consumer. Because of this issue, the global food traceability market size is expected to reach USD20b billion by 2025, up from USD13 billion in 2019.
However, many retailers struggle with these new requirements and are unable to build this system of transparency and accountability. Instead, they tend to rely on 2D and 1D scanners, tags and labels, and thermal printers, none which are able to provide the level traceability and transparency required in today’s environment.
Blockchain for food transparency
Blockchain is emerging as a solution to this challenge. A shared platform, it helps retailers by providing an efficient documentation verification process. When documents such as quality approval certificates are uploaded onto blockchain’s quality control platform, it reduces the possibility of fraud.
Additionally, blockchain simplifies and automates the process of information gathering and sharing with consumers. It openly stores the entire history of a product online, which allows customers to see every move the product has ever made and trace the product back to its origin. With blockchain, consumers can scan a QR code to learn more about where their vegetables were grown or when the pig for their pork was born and vaccinated. Additionally, in the event of a product recall, it can reduce the time it takes to trace a food product back to the source, providing answers in a few minutes rather than a few days.
Also, because the food industry has been storing supply chain data based on the GS1 standards, a common language for supply chain data, in databases for years, blockchain is a logical choice. These global standards for identification and structured data can be easily leveraged by blockchain applications to scale enterprise adoption and maintain a single, shared version of the truth about supply chain and logistics events.
The way forward
As retailers strive to meet rising customer expectations and industry requirements, they need to begin to embrace blockchain. It’s the future of the supply chain and will bring about unprecedented change in terms of how we think about the products that line the shelves at the grocery store.
For more information or if you’re interested in learning about how Capgemini can help you build greater trust and transparency into the food lifecycle, please reach out.