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US National Pork Board to Pilot Blockchain Tech Following New Partnership

The U.S. National Pork Board will use blockchain to create shared trusted records that address critical food issues in the industry.

The United States National Pork Board has partnered with blockchain startup ripe.io to test out a blockchain platform for pork supply chains, according to a press release published on March 18.

The collaboration will ostensibly enable the Board to use a blockchain-based ecosystem to monitor and evaluate sustainability practices, food safety standards, livestock health, and environmental protections.

The platform will purportedly provide insight into the production environment of pork, making it transparent and allowing parties to ensure valid certifications. According to ripe.io, the information in the system will stay anonymous.

Raja Ramachandran, co-founder of ripe.io, revealed that “through blockchain, customers like the National Pork Board can enable its organization and members to create shared, immutable trusted records that address critical food issues such as sustainability, quality, traceability, waste and fraud.”

Waste from large-scale pig farming has become an issue of concern for residents of states like Iowa and North Carolina, where the industry has a significant presence. The vast amount of waste created by pig farms has reportedly affected the groundwater in several areas.

Blockchain technology has been deployed by many companies around the world in order to enable greater supply chain efficiency. Recently, North America’s largest branded shelf-stable seafood firm Bumble Bee Foods launched a blockchain platform for seafood traceability in partnership with German tech company SAP. The new platform can purportedly monitor the supply chain of yellowfin tuna from Indonesia to end customers.

Recently, French retail giant Carrefour continued rolling out its new blockchain-powered product, Carrefour Quality Line (CQL) for micro-filtered full-fat milk. CQL is touted to guarantee consumers complete product traceability across the entire supply chain.

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North American Seafood Firm to Use Blockchain Tech in Supply Chain

Bumble Bee Foods partnered with tech firm SAP to apply blockchain for tracing the supply chain of tuna from Indonesia.

North America’s largest branded shelf-stable seafood firm Bumble Bee Foods has launched a blockchain platform for seafood traceability. The project was created in collaboration with German tech company SAP specializing in enterprise software, according to a press release on March 8.

Based on SAP Cloud Platform Blockchain service, the new platform can purportedly monitor the supply chain of yellowfin tuna from Indonesia to end customers.

The announcement was made at the annual industry conglomerate South by Southwest Conference (SXSW) that is taking place from March 8 to March 17 in Austin, Texas, United States.

Customers will purportedly be able to observe the entire supply chain, and access information on products’ origins and shipping history by using a smart device to scan a QR code on the product package.

The blockchain-stored data will include the size of the catch, the point of capture, as well as information about authenticity, freshness, safety, and trade fishing certification.

Oliver Betz, global head and senior vice president of SAP Innovative Business Solutions, said that blockchain technology, “creates transparency and traceability across the food supply chain…”

Recently, French retail giant Carrefour applied blockchain technology for tracking its milk supply chain. Consumers will be able to see the GPS coordinates of farmers whose animals’ milk was collected, get information about when the milk was collected and packaged, as well as find out about various stakeholders involved in the product line.

In January, the Food and Drug Administration of the Chinese Chongqing Yuzhong District announced it will implement blockchain technology to improve monitoring of food and drug quality assurance.

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Retail Giant Carrefour Applies Blockchain for Tracking Milk Product Supply Chain

French retail giant Carrefour has continued blockchain development by using DLT for tracking micro-filtered full-fat milk.

French retail giant Carrefour has continued blockchain development by applying the technology for tracking milk, according to a press release published on March 1.

Starting from March, the retail giant is gradually rolling out its new blockchain-powered product, Carrefour Quality Line (CQL) micro-filtered full-fat milk. CQL is touted to guarantee consumers complete product traceability across the entire supply chain — from farmers to the store shelves.

With CQL, consumers will be able to see the GPS coordinates of farmers whose animals’ milk was collected, get information about when the milk was collected and packaged, as well as find out about various stakeholders involved in the product line.

Carrefour’s new product has followed a number of previous blockchain implementations by the major global food retailer. In November 2018, Carrefour launched a food tracking solution powered by Hyperledger to track free-range chickens branded as “Calidad y Origen” in Spain.

Previously, the retail giant had joined IBM’s blockchain-enabled food tracking network called Foot Trust, following major food producers such as Nestle, Dole Food, Golden State Foods and others.

In late 2018, another French retail group, Auchan, expanded TE-FOOD’s FoodChain solution to five more countries after a 18-month test of TE-FOOD’s blockchain tool in Vietnam. The blockchain product, which enables retail monitoring system for tracking for selected product categories, became available in France, Italy, Spain, Portugal and Senegal.

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From South Korea to IBM Food Trust – How Blockchain Is Used in the Food Industry

How blockchain is feeding an appetite for transparent food supplies.

2018 has witnessed a steady increase in the number of food manufacturers and retailers using blockchains to enhance their operations. From tracking the quality of food to facilitating international trades in grain, blockchain technology has been turning up repeatedly in recent months; and while many deployments of such tech have been conducted on a trial basis, a growing number have been implemented permanently.

However, as much as it now seems that blockchains are becoming a familiar feature of the food industry, they aren’t an infallible solution to every problem it faces. Even though many blockchains will provide an ‘immutable’ and ‘trustless’ record of the distribution of certain foods, this doesn’t mean we don’t have to trust the parties that first registered these foods on them. And similarly, even though such multinationals as Carrefour are using solutions offered by the IBM Food Trust, they don’t use blockchains in the original sense of the term.

Tracking and transparency

In the vast majority of cases, blockchain tech is used by the food industry for tracking purposes, so that customers can be assured that a particular item is what it’s claimed to be. Most recently, France-based multinational Auchan revealed that it would permanently implement blockchain-based food tracking in five of the countries it operates in: France, Italy, Senegal, Spain, and Portugal. This announcement followed a successful 18-month trial in its Vietnam branch, which has been using the tracking system in conjunction with some 6,000 companies.

Auchan’s system works by registering an item’s information at each stage in its distribution. When, say, an organic carrot is pulled from the ground and readied to be transported from its farm, it’s recorded on TE-FOOD’s blockchain, and when it’s sent to a distribution plant, it can be quickly checked against the info already recorded on that blockchain, which is immutable.

Tracking and transparency

Auchan’s press office manager, François Cathalifaud, tells Cointelegraph that such blockchain tech will enable it to make participants in its supply chains more responsible for the data they enter.

“This is a key point of the blockchain in a sector where data is a valuable resource. As [a] retailer, we cannot ask a producer or a supplier to give us the information without return.”

“Blockchain-based technologies solved that major issue,” he explains, since TE-FOOD’s blockchain works by requiring supermarkets, for example, to transfer tokens whenever they want their suppliers to disclose relevant supply-chain information. This incentivizes suppliers to not only produce such info, but to remain honest, since they would lose out on an additional stream of revenue otherwise.

“Another point is also to avoid data corruption that can occur during a food scandal (transparence+security),” Cathalifaud adds. “Well, at last, if a consumer is asking traceability information we can provide them with traceability information in seconds instead of days with such technology.”

Such credibility is important because according to recent research, consumers are becoming increasingly suspicious of the food industry and turning to more ethical food producers and distributors. In a September study conducted by the Virginia-based Food Marketing Institute, it was found that 75 percent of shoppers would “switch to a brand that provides more in-depth product information, beyond what’s provided on the physical label.” Distributed ledgers are a prime source of such information, and in age becoming more concerned with where our food is coming from, more companies are looking to adopt blockchain-based tracking systems.

In November, multinational retailer Carrefour announced that it would be using the IBM Food Trust blockchain to track free-range chickens in Spain, while in Switzerland, Gustav Gerig AG revealed that it would be using the Ethereum blockchain to track tuna. And in the same month, the South Korean government announced that it would begin tracking beef in January, while United States salad chain Sweetgreen said it had raised $200 million in funding to develop a blockchain-based tracking system for its ingredients.

Tracking and transparency

These announcements were all made within a single month, testifying to how quickly the momentum is growing behind blockchain as a means of bringing greater transparency to food distribution. And prior to November, other organizations have outlined plans this year for blockchain-based tracking include the Dairy Farmers of America, Albert Heijn, the Netherlands‘ largest supermarket chain, the Australian government, the United Kingdom Food Standards Agency, Walmart and Chinese retail giant JD.com.

A growing number of organizations are looking for ways to strengthen their claims that they are responsibly sourcing their products. In other words, food is becoming a more ethically and morally charged issue by the day, which is why the added transparency and the irreversibility offered by the blockchain holds such strong appeal.

This would explain why blockchain is now being used by such major NGOs as Oxfam, which announced in November that it had launched a blockchain to track the supply of rice in Cambodia, where local farmers often lack the information to bargain properly over prices.

Trading and loyalty

There is, then, an increasingly strong sense that food tracking is one area where blockchain and crypto hold genuine appeal to businesses (and consumers). But while the tracing of products will almost certainly be the main area in which blockchain tech contributes to the $5.6 trillion food and beverage industry, such tech looks set to play a slightly more limited role in other areas.

This October the world’s four biggest agricultural producers — Archer Daniels Midland Co., Bunge Ltd., Cargill Inc., and Louis Dreyfus Co. — formed a partnership through which they’ll use blockchain technology to automate the grain-trading process. As the press release states “Eliminating inefficiencies would lead to shorter document-processing times, reduced wait times and better end-to-end contracting visibility.”

Not trustless?

However, while there is plenty of demand from food distributors and producers for blockchains that trace the supply of food, it doesn’t imply that blockchains offer a fail-proof means of proving that, say, an ‘organic chicken’ is really organic, and that they would create entirely trustless food supply networks.

Not trustless?

Initial records can be misled, the only way to stop someone from falsely registering a freshly farmed mango or chicken as organic is to have another trust-providing system or mechanism in place beside a distributed ledger. Big companies such as Carrefour, Auchan, and Walmart do have such systems in place, having worked for years with known farmers and suppliers with which they’ve built a mutually trusting relationship.

Also, even if a blockchain can’t guarantee the initial veracity of information entered into it, it can prevent anything untoward from happening further down the line, such as the addition of, say, non-organic ingredients to a supposedly organic product.

Indeed, as the U.K.-based National Farmers’ Union highlighted in a study which found that food fraud costs Britain around 12 billion pounds a year.

“Food fraud means the deliberate and intentional substitution, addition, tampering with or misrepresentation of food, ingredients, or packaging at some stage of the product’s distribution cycle. It also means false or misleading statements made about a product for economic gain.”

Judging by the report, food fraud regularly occurs beyond the initial registering of a product. And the transparency and immutability provided by the blockchain could play a significant role in reducing its high cost, even if it won’t be a miracle cure.

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Church’s Chicken Starts Accepting Dash in Venezuela After KFC Confusion

U.S. fast food chain Church’s Chicken has started accepting Dash payments at its locations in Venezuela.

American fast food chain Church’s Chicken has started accepting payments in cryptocurrency Dash (DASH) at its locations in Venezuela, according to an official Facebook announcement on Dec. 12.

According to Dash News, the cryptocurrency is accepted in all 10 restaurant locations. Dash has also completed ts first transaction in Church’s Chicken and uploaded a video of the event on its official YouTube channel. The restaurant claims to be the first global fast food chain to accept payments in crypto.

The announcement from Church’s chicken follows some confusion regarding the acceptance of Dash at major fast food vendors in Venezuela. On Dec. 7, PR and media director at DashNews Mark Mason posted a tweet stating that KFC Venezuela would start accepting Dash payments the following week.

Later KFC Venezuela denied the news, stating that processing payments with Dash “is not a fact, nor has the publication of any news about it been authorized.”

Shortly after Dash Merchant Venezuela posted a public apology on its Twitter account. It said that the statement was premature and reflected optimism rather than the current stage of discussions with KFC Venezuela. However, both Dash and KFC confirmed that they are in negotiations regarding the possibility of crypto payments.

In January 2018, KFC Canada introduced a PR stunt, in which it offered a “Bitcoin Bucket” of fried chicken, which could only be purchased with Bitcoin (BTC). KFC announced the promotion in a tweet stating:

“Sure, we don’t know exactly what Bitcoins are, or how they work, but that shouldn’t come between you and some finger lickin’ good chicken.”

As Cointelegraph reported in August, CEO of Dash Core Group Ryan Taylor said that Venezuela had become the second largest market for Dash, with almost one hundred merchants accepting the cryptocurrency each week.

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Australia: National Transport Insurance Partners on Blockchain for Food Safety Trial

Australia’s National Transport Insurance has announced it will trial a blockchain system to improve supply chain integrity for beef exports abroad.

Australia’s National Transport Insurance (NTI) has announced it will trial a blockchain system to improve supply chain integrity for beef exports abroad, local transport industry magazine Fully Loaded ATN reports Dec. 10.

NTI will reportedly be partnering with BeefLedger, an Australian “integrated provenance, blockchain security and payments platform,” which combines blockchain with Internet of Things (IoT) technology to bolster product credentials across the supply chain.

NTI and Beefledger’s pilot will use the system to track the provenance and production of Australian beef exports to Shanghai, from their rearing on South Australia’s Limestone Coast to a processing facility at Casino in New South Wales, and on to China. As ATN reports, Australia is the third largest beef exporter globally, with some 45,000 cattle producers forming the backbone of the industry.  

The use of blockchain to provide an immutable record of the provenance, safety and integrity of beef products is expected to bolster the confidence of suppliers, exporters and consumers alike. BeefLedger chairman Warwick Powell has explained the choice of the Australia-China route for the blockchain pilot, outlining that in the context of burgeoning demand for beef imports, there is an “increased risk of counterfeiting and poor safety standards.” He noted that:

“Research shows us that ethical standards and concerns for animal welfare, along with authenticity and proof of product origin, are amongst the top priorities for Chinese consumers. It’s also what’s driving consumer interest in Australian products.”

As previously reported, tech giant IBM has partnered with major U.S. retailer Walmart on the development of “The Food Trust” blockchain, which aims to track food provenance globally and allow companies to easily identify issues involved with food recalls, such as tracing contamination more quickly to limit customer risk.

This summer, the government of the South Indian state of Kerala announced it would begin using blockchain for food supply and distribution, also in combination with IoT technology.

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Global Retail Giant Auchan Expands Blockchain Tracking Solution to Five More Countries

French retail giant Auchan has expanded its blockchain products’ traceability solution after successful a 18-month pilot in Vietnam.

Global retail giant Auchan is expanding TE-FOOD’s blockchain solution to improve the transparency of products’ history, U.S.-based news agency Cision PRWeb reports today, Dec. 4.

The French retail group, which is reportedly the 13th largest food retailer globally with operations in 17 countries, has extended TE-FOOD’s FoodChain solution to five more countries.

FoodChain is the international traceability information ledger by TE-FOOD, first applied by Auchan in its Vietnam branch. After a 18-month test of TE-FOOD’s blockchain tool in Vietnam, Auchan has now decided to deploy the products’ traceability solution in France, Italy, Spain, Portugal, and Senegal.

The blockchain-powered retail monitoring system provides tracking for selected product categories from farm-to-table, as well as recording food quality data and related logistics information. Auchan consumers are able to check products’ history via their smartphones by scanning the products’ QR codes and getting access to authentic data recorded on FoodChain.

According to the article, TE-FOOD’s blockchain solution implemented by Auchan is reportedly the world’s largest farm-to-table food traceability program in Vietnam, with over 6,000 clients including major global food giants such as AEON, CP Group, Lotte Mart, and others.

In mid-November, another French retail giant Carrefour revealed it was implementing a blockchain-enabled food tracking platform powered by Hyperledger for tracing poultry in Spain.

Earlier in September, U.S. retail giant Walmart and its division Sam’s Club, a membership-only retail warehouse club, also announced that they will require suppliers of leafy greens to deploy farm-to-store tracking system based on blockchain.

In late November, a fintech expert predicted that market value of blockchain in global retail will see a 29-fold increase in value in the next 10 years.

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Blockchain Used to Trace Deadly Chemical Linked to $289 Mln Monsanto Cancer Lawsuit

Food safety firm ZEGO is using blockchain to test products for residue of a deadly chemical tied to a recent $289 million Monsanto lawsuit, according to a press release published August 16.

Earlier this month, Monsanto was fined $289 million in damages after a court ruled in favor of a plaintiff’s claims that the company’s use of a herbicide containing glyphosate had caused his cancer.

ZEGO reportedly has a patent-pending blockchain system that would allow companies to test foodstuffs for glyphosate. The company says it had initially developed the solution to enable consumers to make better informed choices about the presence of allergens and gluten in various goods.

According to ZEGO, glyphosate testing can further be used as a means of verifying suppliers’ purported organic and non-GMO certifications, which it implies can often be fraudulent. As the press release notes:

“Glyphosate has been the subject of thousands of lawsuits and studies alleging correlation to cancer and celiac-like symptoms. This has prompted debates over how much exposure is safe. But the argument over safety thresholds is academic…because consumers have no idea how much they are ingesting. Most…companies do not test for glyphosate, even though numerous studies have measured surprisingly high amounts of it in some packaged [and] even organic foods.”

Last month, the UK’s Food Standard Agency (FSA) successfully completed a pilot using blockchain as a regulatory tool to ensure compliance in the food sector, noting at the time that the tech’s full potential to improve standards would only be realized if an “industry-led” initiative were to take off.

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Australian Government Awards Grant to Blockchain Project for Sustainable Sugar

The Australian government has granted A$2.25 million ($1.7 million) to the Sustainable Sugar Project, Foodnavigator-Asia reports July 30.

The Sustainable Sugar Project, led by the Queensland Cane Growers Organization, will use blockchain technology to track the provenance of sugar supplies to Australia. The initiative known as the Smart Cane Best Management Practice (BMP) is part of a sugar industry push for better sustainability and traceability. 

Blockchain technology will purportedly allow buyers to clearly see where sugarcane comes from and prove the provenance and sustainability of the farm. Canegrowers told Foodnavigator-Asia:

“Blockchain’s main attribute is that it’s a secure database in which all transactions are recorded and visible… the quality sugar produced from the sustainably-grown cane can be traced back through the chain, giving consumers confidence in what they are buying.”

For the initiative, industry experts and sugarcane farmers collaborated on best practices and industry standards based on productivity, sustainability, and profitability.

The Ministry of Agriculture and Water Resources stated that large buyers of sugar could pay more in the future for sustainable sugar, as customers increasingly demand sustainably-sourced products. Agriculture Minister David Littleproud said:

“This technology would provide assurances around the sustainability of our sugar and ensure cane farmers using sustainable practices can attract a premium for their product.”

Blockchain technology has proven to be a boon for logistics and supply chain applications, and is widely regarded as a cheaper and more efficient way to track complex supply chains globally.

Today, the Commonwealth Bank of Australia announced that it completed a successful trade of 17 tons of almonds to Europe using blockchain technology. The platform, which was part of a collaborative effort of five “supply chain leaders,” is underpinned by distributed ledger technology (DLT), Internet of Things (IoT), and smart contracts.

Earlier this month, U.S. computer technology firm Oracle released its blockchain platform focusing on transaction efficiency and supply chain authentication. Oracle Blockchain Cloud Service uses Hyperledger Fabric as its basis and launched following a series of trials with banking, business, and government clients.