Society

Empowering consumers to choose what they eat once again

06.06.18

Today’s food-processing industry is having to reinvent itself to reflect a demand for complete transparency on the part of end consumers. Where do the food products they buy come from, what do they contain and what route have they taken to reach the shelves? And, more importantly, what proof of traceability are brands claiming and highlighting? There has been a real crisis of confidence vis-à-vis institutional advertisers: it is no longer enough merely to affirm in order to be believed by today’s younger generations, who trust only themselves, their phones, their network of friends and anything they can verify directly and factually.

This societal trend is irreversible and inevitable. Rather than questioning whether it is in their interest to embrace the trend, the issue for the sector’s players is to consider how they are going to provide the proof demanded by consumers and thereby re-establish a relationship of trust with them.

Blockchain: the new reality

This critical challenge also ties in with the complexity of food-processing chains. In order to gain an accurate picture of a product’s journey, it is necessary to gather information regarding numerous stages (seven on average) occurring in multiple countries. This is where blockchain changes everything. That is because the applications of this open technology are revolutionizing food-processing markets and raising the standards of the sector as a whole. Firstly, they will drive out cheats once and for all and reward players who embrace a quality approach. Since it is a shared system, individual players can scrutinize the way it operates, meaning any link in the chain that is a cause for concern can be quickly identified. Secondly, since it is an open technology, blockchain empowers consumers as never before: they can use their smartphones to consult a product’s complete life-cycle, simply by scanning a QR code on the supermarket shelves.

A virtuous circle that will benefit the entire food-processing sector

Blockchain provides the common - and “neutral” - language necessary to build traceability throughout a sector: it provides a platform whereby different information systems can interact at every stage. They can also be accessed by the end consumer. Blockchain is a product’s precise, open and indisputable family tree. It is the solution that, combined with audits and physical checks, delivers the degree of transparency demanded by customers and at the same time adds value to the end product. It also gives players who embrace the change an appeal that will establish them as the new gold standards in their markets. Moreover, in the event of a food crisis, Blockchain can be used to manage product recalls efficiently, with each product tracked in real time.

Blockchain paves the way for a radical transformation of the food-processing sector, from which everyone will emerge a winner.

Here at Bureau Veritas, we believe in this virtuous circle and have used it as a basis for the development of Origin, our Blockchain applied to product traceability solution.