The coronavirus pandemic created exceedingly challenging trading conditions for businesses in 2020 — putting global trade under immeasurable strain. But one company says blockchain technology has helped alleviate the challenges of COVID-19 by allowing enterprises to modernize and digitize their supply chains.

Sustainability has become one of the most important buzzwords of the decade. Now more than ever, customers are looking for brands to prove they are environmentally friendly — and want greater levels of information about the products they buy. Over the past year, GoChain entered into a series of high-profile partnerships that enabled manufacturers to put traceability at the front and center of their offering.

In May, GoChain’s public blockchain protocol — alongside its GoTrace supply chain management platform — started being used by Two Hands. At first, shipments of Southern Rock Lobster were traced as they made their way from Australia to China to be served at a wedding banquet in Shanghai. Each individual lobster was given a tamperproof smart tag that allowed it to be traced every step of the way — and chefs were given the opportunity to select produce based on the region, harvester and price.

Blockchain-powered traceability platforms can help build levels of trust in fresh food, especially in countries that have been rocked by safety scares before. Embracing this technology can also be advantageous for businesses, which can justifiably charge more for quality produce — and pinpoint the source of issues along the supply chain with precision.

GoChain’s CEO, Henry Ines, told Cointelegraph: “2020 was an incredibly challenging year with the resiliency of businesses and supply chains tested. As the pandemic continues into the new year, businesses are responding to this new reality with technology-driven solutions. 

“GoChain is proud to support these leading enterprises with blockchain-based applications that enable real-time traceability and auditability of supply chains. We anticipate the demand for such solutions will continue to rise as businesses respond to evolving consumer preferences and regulations globally.”

October saw Pronatura Noroeste embark on a 12-month pilot project with GoChain to embrace its blockchain-based track-and-trace system. With stock depletion in the world’s oceans becoming a major cause for concern because of how it affects biological communities, this technology can help promote responsible business practices and protect the livelihoods of fishermen.

As Pronatura Noroeste’s executive director Dr. Gustavo D. Danemann explained at the time: “Traceability tools will help to tell the story that comes with every seafood product, giving markets the opportunity to provide clear incentives for better fishing practices.”

Delivering results

The advantages of GoChain’s technology extends beyond food. In December, the global energy company Enviva announced that its pilot of the blockchain platform was a success, with more than 1,000 loads of biomass successfully recorded “on-chain” as they made their journey from the forest to the production plant.

Enviva said it chose GoChain because of its green credentials, as this blockchain uses a proof-of-reputation consensus mechanism which is far more eco-friendly than the proof-of-work infrastructure used by the likes of Bitcoin.

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Leading universities, including Penn State, have also teamed up with GoChain to perform in-depth research about how blockchains can enhance supply chains further. As associate professor Aydin Alptekinoglu explained: “People want to know where things come from, how they were made. They don’t want, for example, child labor being used in the making of their T-shirts.”

Track-and-trace platforms have also gained newfound importance in light of COVID-19, not least because resilient supply chains are required to deliver items that will keep us safe, such as test kits and personal protective equipment. In the early days of the pandemic, the quality of certain items — such as masks — were found to be of exceptionally low quality, meaning consumers could have been misled into thinking they were safe.

Through a collaboration with Gentag, GoChain has proposed the use of blockchain technology along with a hybrid Near Field Communication and optical scanning solution to track, trace and authenticate COVID-19 tests and PPE at every step of the process. 

Additionally, working with tagging partner Shape Matrix, the two organizations recently developed and piloted an unique blockchain and laser-etched geometric Shapetag solution for the authentication and traceability of medical devices and surgical instruments for FDA compliance purposes.

The world of business is radically different to what it was 12 months ago — but GoChain believes the supply chain efficiencies delivered by blockchain technology are here to stay.

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