The ever-growing food industry has an intricate web of operational connections between players in the supply chain. From the sourcing of raw material to the final product reaching the hands of the consumer, an elaborate and meticulous arrangement of processes and operations is carried out. This web of operations is so fragile and uncertain that it requires a well-planned and well-managed supply chain.
Therefore, the supply chain and its management become one of the most important aspects of the functioning of the colossal food industry.
With increased volume came advancements in technology that allowed companies to access, store, and interpret massive amounts of data to make better decisions across the supply chain.
With the help of the data obtained, organizations are evaluating data, gaining insights, and applying analytics to operations.
Blockchain in the Food supply chain
A fundamental supply chain is defined as any trade or exchange between two parties. The structure of a supply chain is defined as a relationship or arrangement for the acquisition and sale of goods or services, which includes the sale of raw materials, processing services, production, distribution, and transportation of products till they reach the final customer. The degree of collaboration between players, the level of business activities, and the size of the supply chain change differs from one firm to the next. One such breakthrough in the food supply industry is the implementation of Blockchain technology.
Blockchain is a distributed ledger technology that allows data to be recorded at specified points in the supply chain and is accessible by all payers in the chain. It has a decentralized structure in which data is not handled by a single authority; any data modifications or tampering will be broadcast to all players. The tracking and traceability tool allows you to track products throughout the supply chain and, if necessary, conduct a recall. The implementation gave both organizations and customers the transparency of operations and trust among players in the supply chain.
As global trade brings volumes, it proportionately includes players within the supply chain. As these contracts become more complex, the need for transparency also increases.
Blockchain technology fits through this loophole perfectly well by providing real-time transparency throughout the supply chain. For various needs, data is gathered along the supply chain of products and their components. Traceability systems aid in the identification and tracking of products throughout a continuous process, regardless of industry. The amount of data gathered (Breadth), the depth to which the product can be tracked backward or upward in the supply chain (Depth), and the level of precision of information that can ensure the source or origin of data collected (Precision) are all factors that differentiate traceability systems.
Read more about 5 step approach to Food traceability
Traceability differs in approach, depending on the value chain and its required outcome. Below are a few traceability examples from different value chains across markets.
Traceability in agriculture
One of the important features of Blockchain technology is the ability to trace a product in its journey through the supply chain. Traceability is the process wherein the movement of the product is followed through different stages in the supply chain. This tool helps in providing food safety, quality, and product authenticity. In TraceX we partnered with OLAM, which works with thousands of farmers involved in E2E management of various agri-commodities.
TraceX’s Blockchain solutions were implemented to promote traceability and sustainability in Basmati rice production in the state of Haryana. Various challenges like mismanagement of stakeholders, proper ledger maintenance, residue-free production and traceability were to be handled. We provided a one-stop solution through our FOOD SIGN application catering to various needs like the systematic recording of data, crop and farmers’ information updates, performance tracker, water and pesticides dose recommendation, and visibility throughout the supply chain.
This empowered the farmers with trust and confidence and helped them to reap multiple benefits.
Both farmers and consumers could track operations and take decisions accordingly.
Read more on how OLAM used traceability for Sustainable rice production.
Data management occurs at every stage of a good supply chain. Entry of data at every collection and dispatch points are crucial in maintaining data and track of products. The procurement of raw materials with every detail relating to such purchase and details regarding the same have to be captured. The automated procurement process, procurement model, transparency, a centralized data hub, multi-sourcing strategies, and optimization of inventory are a few of them.
The visibility and traceability of procurement and operations act as proof to the user.
Professor Jayashankar Telangana State Agricultural University (PJTSAU) wanted to implement supply chain traceability for its seed value chain. India is one of the top seed exporters facing hoarding issues, price fluctuations, a disorganized system, and seed tampering.
The University collaborated with TraceX to completely digitalize its seed value chain promoting traceability, transparency, quality testing after harvest, and QR code packing and labeling.
This ensured quality seed delivery to the farmers and buyers, assuring them of the authenticity of the product.
Read how TraceX helped PJTSAU to improve authenticity of seedsJoin TraceX safe and sustainable food ecosystem for connected and climate-reslient supply chains
Processing Plant Inspection
The key aspect of a supply chain is the link between players in the supply chain. The transition and transport of products have to take place systematically to maintain a good relationship between these players. Therefore, material inspection has to take place at both collections and drop-off points. Every process that a product goes through is linked to the raw material that has been used in the specific product.
Better management in maintaining the quality of raw materials would result in better quality output.
MTR Foods Ltd partnered with TraceX to trace one of their raw materials called the Byadgi chilly.
These are grown in the North of Karnataka and are used in almost every Indian dish.
MTR works with a few local FPOs who act as a link between the farmers and the company (MTR). Along with bringing transparency within the byadgi supply chain, MTR was keen to look into the handling practices of chilies as it generated a toxic called Aflatoxins through the growth of fungi caused by the moisture content on crops.
By root cause analysis, MTR in collaboration with TraceX could achieve quality, standard, trust, and credibility for their product.
Read more about the MTR story
Proof of Origin
Red wine from French! Mangoes from India! Tea leaves from Burma! These are a few modern days claims. Organizations have been using product origin and quality testing details as sales pitches. Although it’s an added benefit to the consumer, the provenance of such data has to be provided. Therefore, the efficient method to prove such processes is to implement traceability through Blockchain technology.
Every sourcing detail is electronically captured and conveyed, providing visibility, traceability, and building trust among players in the supply chain.
The Vegetable and Fruit Promotion Council of Kerala (VFPCK) approached TraceX technologies to completely digitalize their Nendran Banana supply chain and to provide provenance of origin and quality as their Banana were exported to the United Kingdom whose regulatory standards were stringent.
TraceX digitalized and connected multiple stakeholders through its Food Sign application which was used to record on-the-go details like crop cultivation activities, harvest, movement of produce to processing, gathering the bananas, cleaning, sorting, grading, hygiene packing, and precooling process.
Details like product origin, dates, grade, supply chain touchpoints, etc were provided to the consumers through a QR Code printed on the packing.
Read the Nendran banana journey
Undoubtedly the most prominent feature of Blockchain technology is its ability to recall. Through traceability, a product recall can take place in real-time. For the food industry, the world is a marketplace, hence its product variety and reach are tenfold. Therefore, the ability to identify products through these complex connections is an added advantage.
Recalls cost a lot of dollars and tarnish the brand image.
Real-time track and trace systems help to target recall accurately, thereby saving costs and building trustworthy brands.
With the implementation of Blockchain, technology, TraceX was able to provide end-to-end traceability for Timios, a D2C baby food brand, assuring mothers of safe and healthy food for their babies.
The traceability solutions helped Timios to showcase the product journey of their baby food from source to consumption, thereby gaining consumer engagement and building a loyal, trustworthy brand. They were assured of safe products without the risks of costly food recalls.
Blockchain helps in the implementation of data recording at each stage of the supply chain which in turn helps in linking processes and raw materials.
Thus, when there are quality issues, impurities, or defects in the product, the traceability tool provides leverage to recall products in real-time.
Read about the traceability journey of the porridge pack