The disruptive potential of blockchain applications in food supply chains
On 8 October 2019, the European Joint Research Centre published its latest report 'Blockchain now and tomorrow: assessing the impact of distributed ledger technologies'. Starting from the current state of play in blockchain development, the report investigates future applications and their disruptive potential on several EU markets, among which food supply chains.
In this regard, blockchain technologies might support the creation of more transparent food supply chains by improving:
Traceability. Blockchain-based systems could provide an accurate and updated record of products along their production, processing and distribution chains, increasing transparency in both B2B and B2C relationships. All stakeholders would be able to access the information related to the different production stages of the product, and this would in turn enhance accountability at every step of the chain. Creating trust within the value chain is particularly important for those businesses making use of food products that undergo several, geographically distant steps in the value chain, such as the case of some vegetable oils.
Product safety and authenticity. Blockchain applications offer an irrevocable, authenticated history of products. This will help keep track of the authenticity of the product (via proof of origin), the compliance with safety rules and of the economic, environmental and social sustainability of the supply chain (environmental labels, fair trade and ethical compliance, organic labelling and so on). This would stimulate the industry to take up more transparent, sustainable business models.
Consumer Awareness. Having complete access to the product’s supply chain would help consumers better understand what they are buying and make more conscious purchasing choices.
Several challenges still lie ahead. To create ‘A Europe fit for the Digital Age’, policymakers and regulators will need to assess the suitability of existing policies and laws, while envisaging new comprehensive and cross-sectoral regulatory frameworks fit for blockchain technologies and their disruptive potential