Four food companies from Australia and New Zealand recently formed a consortium with online retail giant Alibaba. They have announced the launch of a new food-tracking system that uses Blockchain technology.

Using the technology widely known from cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin, the companies will offer improved supply-chain traceability and transparency. Blockchain’s immutable central ledger will help them build a trusted platform for cross-border trade.

In the process, they stand to rebuild and enhance consumer confidence.

Tmall Global, Alibaba’s cross-border marketplace, will also use Blockchain and unique QR codes to create and manage end-to-end and sustainable supply-chain processes. This framework will ensure product authenticity and provide a trusted marketplace for consumers.

We have increasing instances of Blockchain technology usage for food safety and traceability. The inherent stability of the system prevents information from being altered or doctored. This has the potential to transform food safety.

The problem

Food fraud is a rising global challenge. Michigan State University has regularly reported that fake food products are a bane for the industry worldwide.

Each year, the industry suffers about a $40 billion loss in revenue due to this issue. 39 percent of food companies have admitted that they are easy targets for counterfeiters. 40 percent of them have said that the traditional approaches are insufficient to counter fraudulent activities in the sector.

One in 10 people globally fall prey to foodborne diseases every year. More than 400,000 die. These grim statistics are a result of slow or nonexistent food recalls. It takes far too long to isolate contamination issues in the supply chain or recall the product in time.

How can Blockchain bring back trust?

Fake ingredients will be detected much faster. In the event of food contamination, retailers can retrace the supply chain and remove a specific batch of a contaminated product right away. They no longer have to go through the entire shipment, saving precious time and resources.

Product labeling is also under scrutiny as nefarious businesses are prone to falsify facts. As a result, they have undermined the good faith that other companies have built up.

The robust framework of Blockchain can improve visibility and transparency in this regard. It enhances the confidence of both consumers and merchants.

Blockchain solutions will also empower distributors. They will have real-time access to commodity prices and market data. This will offer farmers and producers better information about the marketplace. They can stay competitive and be more productive in their business approach.

Blockchain solutions have made significant inroads in industries like pharma and gold production. Now they're set to impact food safety and sustainability.

People want to make trustworthy food choices for themselves. They want to know what’s inside the products they consume. If a product label is backed by a traceable, immutable system, consumer trust is bound to increase.