Leading French-based retailer Carrefour has launched Europe’s first food blockchain through its free-range Auvergne chicken, one million of which are sold every year.
The company plans to extend the technology to 8 more animal and vegetable product lines, including eggs, later this year marking a revolution in its business.
A blockchain is a secure digital database that cannot be falsified in which all information sent by its users is stored.
The company says it can be used in the food sector so that each and every party along the length of the supply chain, including producers, processors and distributors, can provide traceability information about their particular role. For example, each batch – dates, places, farm buildings, distributed channels, potential treatments – can be traced and added to the database.
As a result, it can provide consumers a guarantee of complete product traceability, meets the growing desire for transparency from farm to fork.
Carrefour said it would be able to use it to share a secure database with all of its partners as well as guaranteeing higher levels of food safety for its customers.
In concrete terms, each product’s label will feature a QR code which consumers will be able to scan using their smartphones.
This will provide them with information about the product and the journey it has taken – from where it was reared right up to when it was placed on the shelves: for example, for free-range Carrefour Quality Line Auvergne chicken, consumers will be able to find out the following information:
- Where the bird was reared
- The name of the farmer
- What feed was used (whether or not they were fed on French cereals and soya beans, on GMO products etc)
- Any quality labels
- Where the bird was slaughtered
Laurent Vallee, Carrefour’s general secretary and head of quality and food safety, said the move to use blockchain technology was an important milestone in the company’s 2022 transformation plan.
“Making use of blockchain technology is an exemplary step in meeting this aim. This is a first in Europe and will provide consumers with guaranteed complete transparency as far as the traceability of our products is concerned,” he added.
Chinese company ZhongAn Technology has already launched a technology incubator to develop blockchain technologies, citing that there is an expectation of specific applications within the poultry industry.
The Chinese consume about 5 billion chickens a year but prefer dark meat rather than the breast meat favoured by American consumers. Recently, China has been allowed to export cooked chicken to the United States and blockchain could be a way to alleviate any concerns about sourcing and production methods, perhaps eventually opening the way for raw exports.
Alltech’s Aidan Connolly believes blockchain’s opportunity in the poultry industry is its ability to resolve food safety and transparency issues. Walmart, Unilever, Nestle and other good giants are working with IBM using blockchain technology to secure digital records and monitor supply chain management, ensuring traceability of the poultry products sold in stores.
Poultry World reported last November on Cargill’s work to ensure that American consumers could trace their Thanksgiving turkeys to the farm of origin thanks to blockchain technology.
“Blockchain can be used to monitor all aspects of the food supply chain, from farmers and producers to processors and distributors. This is Walmart’s third experiment with blockchain, and the increasing interest of other large food conglomerates demonstrates the unique capabilities of this technology,” he added.