In an effort to ensure customers fully understand the history behind the food they are about to purchase, the Grass Roots Farmers’ Cooperative, formed by a number of small livestock farmers in Arkansas, are utilizing the Provenance supply chain which is powered by blockchain technology.
Modern Farmer details how the adoption of distributed ledger technology can impact the food industry. Because a blockchain is a decentralized and immutable database, it means that no single entity has power over the blockchain and that all recorded data is permanent. Because the blockchain is public, it offers instant transparency to consumers about food products versus our current stamp of certification, which only offers us the ability to trust that a central entity properly tracked and inspected the food.
With the growth of the organic food market came a rush to both mark food as organic and use some certified organic food as leverage for consumers to assume the rest of their items are sourced in the same or in a similar way. With blockchain technology, a QR code can detail the complete history of the product instantly in-store; meaning a conscious consumer can see past the marketing and immediately tell if the food they are about to eat is truly deserving of the label “organic.” Those companies, as well, that attempt to prop up a few organic items to present a mirage to consumers will be revealed as each product can now be individually assessed for quality.
The Modern Farmer quotes Jessi Baker, a PhD in computer science who founded Provenance in 2013, as stating the following:
“Often companies will use the story of this one great smallholder farmer that they source from in their marketing campaigns. Which would be great if they were buying all of their products from similar smallholder farmers, not just a tiny percentage. They’re using that person as leverage to get people to buy the rest of their products, which aren’t all coming from such a great source. The idea of Provenance is to guarantee to the consumer that a company is indeed buying all their products from high-quality sources. It is an attempt to take traceability to the next level.”
Blockchain technology level out the playing field for consumer and producer alike. Not only do consumers get to make better choices concerning their food purchases, but producers at the top are now having to compete and adjust their food standards because of competition presented by those smaller producers.