The New Food Movement And How Blockchain Could Solve Food Security Issues

October 23, 2108


By Jennifer Kite-Powell


In 2013, Tesco's supermarket chain in the United Kingdom had a tainted meat scandal in which horse meat was found in some beef burgers sold in the UK and Ireland. Since that time, there has been an increased awareness by consumers who are demanding to know the provenance of their food. On top of that is the concern over the environmental impact of the farming industry and its effect on climate change.

Within a year of the2013 Tesco scandal, there was an upswing in consumers wanting to know where their food came from. The tainted meat scandal created a consumer desire for authenticity. A London-based non-profit, Project Provenance, created a platform that uses blockchain to establish an authenticated food chain with information gathered collaboratively from suppliers all along the supply chain.  Their platform substantiates product claims with reliable, real-time data. With a licensing model in place, stores can license the platform while their app gives consumers the opportunity to track where the meat came from and follow its path to the stores.

"This is where blockchain becomes so interesting, rather than become something consumers can’t understand or see, or just relegated to crypto, in the case of food security, it becomes a part of the marketing budget," said Richard Penfold, Partner, Intellectual Property, Withers Worldwide. 

"The accepted test bed for blockchain has been aligned with crypto, but food provenance is a market that affects everyone from the farmer to the slaughterhouse or the processing facility to packing and delivery.  It has not been secured and a result, people took advantage of that," said Penfold. "Blockchain can show everyone in the value chain where the food came from."

Penfold says blockchain can also be applied to any industry where there are raw materials that end up in the consumer's hands. "If we look at the fashion industry, the chain of manufacturing back to the sourcing of materials. Whether it is Chanel or Primark, no one knows every step in the chain, and that includes growing the cotton and who’s picking it," said Penfold. "Using blockchain will take the consumer through the whole process -- from growing, weaving and dying the cotton to sewing, packaging, distribution chain all the way to retail and it is on your back.”

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