Blockchain for Food, How the Industry Makes Use of the Technology

As blockchain continues to push for mass adoption, the food and beverage industry is shaping up to be one of the most inclusive destinations for the technology: Just over the past few months, a variety of players — including juggernauts like Nestlé, Carrefour and Starbucks — have reported on their latest blockchain-powered initiatives within the field. 

Indeed, in 2019, blockchain has been piercing the food industry at an accelerated pace. According to recent research, 20% of the top-10 global grocers will use blockchain by 2025. So, what makes the technology so appealing for the food industry participants, and are there any obstacles that can be a hurdle to potential adoption?

Empowering customers with more data and tracking food illness

There are at least two essential problems in the food industry that blockchain has been presumed to solve. First, the trust issue: According to a 2018 study released by the United States-based Food Marketing Institute (FMI), the public demand for transparency is growing within the market. Essentially, customers are becoming more health-conscious and want to know as much as possible about the food they get.

Specifically, the report found that as much as 75% of consumers are more likely to switch to a brand that provides more in-depth product information — beyond what’s provided on the physical label. When shoppers were asked the same question in 2016 in a similar study conducted by Label Insight, just 39% declared they would switch brands. Blockchain, being an easily accessible, immutable distributed ledger by design, seems to be the go-to solution for that case, as it can provide consumers with concrete, immutable data about their food. Matron Ven, the chief marketing officer at blockchain-powered farm-to-table food traceability solution company Te-Food, told Cointelegraph:

“Food companies implement traceability because they see that the consumers require transparency and credibility. Blockchain's immutability helps them to prove that the information the different supply chain companies provide is uncorrupted.”

Traceability is not just the customer’s whim, however, but a crucial component for the industry at large, in which investigations into foodborne illnesses require extra swiftness to prevent human loss. Rachel Gabato, the chief operating officer at Ripe.io, a San Francisco-based blockchain startup working with the food supply chain, told Cointelegraph:

“One of the primary drivers for food providers to consider blockchain technology is the ability of the technology to collect data from various sources and create a single view of the transactionю This plays an important role in the ability to track the food product back to its origin driving more efficiency when a food safety issue arises.”

For instance, in 2017, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) investigated a