Blockchain food supply chain growth depends on clean data

The need to trust food supplies is high on the list of priorities for consumers, food retailers and wholesalers, and nations alike. However, tracking and managing the food supply chain from farm to consumer have grown increasingly complicated in a globalized market. The more complex the trail that food follows, the greater the need for accountability at every step to ensure food freshness, safety, and contractual and regulatory compliance. Using blockchain for food supply chain traceability is often touted as the best path to trustworthy food data, but critics say even a blockchain is only as dependable as its weakest links. One of the biggest links is data that is complete and accurate.

“Organizations must make sure that ‘clean’ data is being inputted into the blockchain and that no integration points are compromised; otherwise, the entire blockchain ecosystem could be compromised,” said Maciej Kranz, vice president of the corporate strategic innovation group at Cisco, in an email interview.

Even with IoT sensors and the necessary integrations in place, maintaining just one part of the blockchain may be beyond the skills of many farmers. This is especially true of workers and farmers who most stand to be exploited — another issue that using blockchain in food supply chains aims to resolve or at least expose.

Blockchain food supply chain data hard to acquire

“Most of the food products in developing economies, like Africa and China, are produced on very small farms that don’t have access to technology or internet connectivity,” said Nir Kshetri, a professor at University of North Carolina-Greensboro, via email. “Blockchain systems can also be expensive.”

“You’re really going to set up small coffee farmers in Brazil with IoT devices and assume they’ll do their own troubleshooting when stuff inevitably goes wrong?” wrote Dary Merckens, CTO of Gunner Technology, an AWS partner specializing in JavaScript development.

Despite its challenges, evidence of…

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