Blockchain technology. Mmm…what on earth is that? In the world of food production, block chain technology is the latest innovation. Believe me, it’s exciting stuff. It ensures a number of things. First of all it ensures traceability. Let’s be real, food traceability ensures food safety, that’s for sure. Not only that, blockchain technology is now bonding people across the globe! How cool is that?
Firstly, foods are labeled at the place of produce. Then, scanning and computer documentation allows tracing each step in its production, manufacture or transport stage. True paddock to plate. Now, with extreme new methods, it allows consumers to communicate with the people on the farm.
An example in novel shopping
Dutch supermarket giant Albert Heyn brings a blockchain system for its orange juice. Honestly, this is novel shopping at its best! The fruit comes from Amazonian Rain Forest Alliance Certified orange groves. The Brazilians who pick the fruit get on a bus that takes them to the groves. That bus has a TV screen at the front. On it, they can read messages from real people who consume the juice. Across the globe, the Dutch consumer scans a QR code that’s printed on the label, uses the store app, and sends a text to the pickers. That can vary from a simple hello to substantial thank-you messages and compliments on the product.
Of course, commercially speaking this is a success story. It allows consumers to be ‘in touch” with the food they consume. We all like feeling involved and connected. Moreover, it makes food more “whole” in a fragmented world. But, the experiment has shown that the pickers benefit vastly as well. In their low-income, hard lives, receiving direct messages before they start their next shift is encouraging. Let’s be honest, it’s great to hear your hard work is making people happy. As a result, they start their working day feeling good. That is unique, and has immense human value.
Blockchain is not new
Blockchain is not new in the world of food production. For example, dried foods such as granulated instant coffee have an edible microchip the size of a dust speck. Every jar will have one coffee granule with this harmless and invisible food tracing tool. This means batches can be traced and recalled in case of errors. Not only dried foods but even meat can be traced in the same way, with edible, invisible ink stamps containing microchip components.
Food giant Nestle is in discussion with New Zealand dairy industries to enable a similar traceability on milk products. Their next plan is to do the same for palm oil. Hopefully, in the near future they will manage to do all this. It means that you, as consumer, can make a conscious choice about where your food comes from. Not only that, it may help conservation programs too, especially in the case of palm oil. The deforestation taking place to make room for this cheap product has devastating effects on endangered species such as the gorilla. When food companies allow transparency in their practises, it’s a win-win for all parties. So, keep your eyes out for this kind of stuff to become the norm in the next few years. We will all benefit!