Expert opinion

2 comments

Traceability is good, but should be obvious

Wherever you go in the world today, when it comes to innovation there is only one magic concept out there. Blockchain technology. It is not an easy technology to fully grasp for most people, but it sure is promising, so it seems.

And indeed, it has promising applications, virtual currencies being the most hyped and unless you bought in cheap into this ‘ponzi scheme’ not the most favourable.

‘Chicken without secrets’

What is a great application for blockchain technology is tracking and tracing. So it is brought into practice by Belgium supermarket chain Carrefour. It has launched the ‘first chicken without secrets’ using blockchain, called Belchick’n. Carrefour uses the technology to fully control and show the whole supply chain of its chicken meat, starting at the hatchery and ending on the supermarket shelves.

For the consumer it would make far more sense to replace the QR-code of the Belchick’n by the name and address of the farmer which produced the chicken. Photo: Wikimedia
For the consumer it would make far more sense to replace the QR-code of the Belchick’n by the name and address of the farmer which produced the chicken. Photo: Wikimedia

With a QR-code on the packaged meat, consumers can access all the steps his or her chicken has encountered. On top of that every link in the supply chain can add valuable information to the product, such as origin, disease treatments, feed and of course process steps.

Traceability

Traceability of poultry meat is good, actually it should be obvious that the industry has that under control. I trust that blockchain technology is useful to further improve supply chain management for the industry. However, the added value for the consumer is limited.

Is a QR code useful for consumers?

Marketing traceability has limited value and a high negative impact when things go wrong. For the consumer it is all about trust. They don’t care how many steps there are and how much time there is between the farm and the supermarket, they just trust that it is all okay, and for a reasonable price as well. For the consumer it would make far more sense to replace the QR-code of the Belchick’n by the name and address of the farmer which produced the chicken. Including an invitation to come and visit the farm. If you trust the farmer, you will trust the product, all the rest is taken for granted and must be up to standard anyway.

2 comments

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  • Sonia Mountford

    Wonderful to see this article and the importance of traceability not only from a food safety viewpoint but from a transparency viewpoint for the consumer - my one hesitation about claiming blockchain as the answer to traceability is that it would still rely on human input and trust that this inputted information is not misleading, that is where transparency of the provenance is so important. Super article.

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