The Wild Bunch uses Provenance Blockchain Solution for Conservation

September 25, 2018

COMPUTER WEEKLY

By SA Mathieson

This recent article on the use of Blockchain technology in the food and drink industry, highlights several use-cases, and discusses the technology.

As reported in the article, Provenance’s Blockchain solution is featured through its adoption by Dutch food importer The Wild Bunch, which specializes in sustainably-produced goods from forests in Indonesia. Their aim is preventing deforestation by giving local farmers a viable alternative income. As a result, it needs to demonstrate both traceability and that a significant proportion, ideally 20%-30%, of the retail price reaches the producer.

“We want to make it more effective for the farmers to produce products that are wild-harvested from the forest,” says chief executive Dirk-Jan Oudshoorn. “That’s why we want to make it completely traceable so we can cut out the middleman, follow the journey and see what the costs are and where.” Consumers will benefit from seeing that a fair price is paid and that their purchases directly contribute to forest conservation.

For The Wild Bunch, the use of blockchain is incidental. “This is a means to an end,” says Oudshoorn. “This could be a great way for us to show that we have nothing to hide.” It should also reduce fraud, he adds: “Through this technology, we also hope that we can then at least minimize the risk of corruption, as everything is registered and cannot be changed afterwards.”

The company came across UK-based Provenance, its blockchain supplier, through hearing about it piloting a system that allowed festival-goers in the Netherlands to scan Indonesian coconuts, see exactly where they had come from and what price was paid to the farmer. The only alternative supplier was involved in tracing palm oil, a product for which Indonesian forests are often felled, ruling it out from an ethical point of view.

The Wild Bunch expects to use the Provenance system for forest sugar, virgin coconut oil and illipe butter – the last of which is made from nuts from endangered Shorea Stenoptera trees.

The company is not currently able to apply for Fairtrade status – often-used to demonstrate ethical behavior – as this requires a certain number of suppliers in a sector so fair wages and rates can be calculated.  “Fairtrade for us is not possible at the moment, as we are making unique products,” says Oudshoorn.

A later aim is that blockchain will let consumers see where Wild Bunch’s products come from – although it has yet to decide if this will be an area or an individual farmer – and who is receiving their money across the supply chain, potentially including retailers.

“Instead of investing in expensive and open-to-manipulation certifications, we’d rather invest in making everything transparent, so the consumer can decide for his or herself whether it’s a fair price and can find out how their purchase contributes to sustainable production and forest conservation,” says Oudshoorn.

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