How do we create a safer supply chain that combats food waste?

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This question becomes increasingly important in the fight for sustainability. Blockchain, a system that protects data against manipulation, is a first step toward more transparency.

Our planet is becoming increasingly congested. In 5 years the number of people on earth will exceed 8 billion. And by 2050 the population is expected to be 9 billion. The increasing population puts our complex food supply chain under pressure. It is already affected by climate change and limited water supply. A sustainable approach is necessary. But how do you apply this to the retail sector?

A sustainable future for everyone

This requires clear goals. The UN’s Sustainable Development Goals try to address this problem: 17 goals to ensure a more sustainable future for everyone. By 2030 they want all goals to be achieved.

Some of the goals

  • No poverty
  • Preservation of life below water and on land.
  • Responsible production and consumption

More and better with less

Sustainable production and consumption are closely entwined with the retail sector. The UN advocates more and better with less. By using the resources we have more efficiently, we can improve prosperity in the world. And counter air, water and soil pollution at the same time. A sustainable work method also tackles hidden costs in the supply chain. Because hidden costs make consumers pay twice as much for food, without even knowing.

Attention for sustainability

However, the necessary improvements apply for the entire supply chain. Consumers play a key role: they need to become aware of a more sustainable way of living. But it is up to producers and traders to inform them sufficiently through transparent and clear information. Consumers focus already strongly on sustainability: 59% believe it is important that the food on their plates has sustainable origins. In 2017 that figure amounted to 50%.

Need for transparency for the consumer

Consumers want to know where their food came from. What is the effect of the production methods on our planet? How were workers and animals treated during that process? It is important that producers or traders respond to these questions.

Sustainability is no longer without obligation. Consumers want to know: according to a survey of Hartman Group, 70% want more transparency about the delivered sustainability efforts.

Need for new technologies

The need for new technologies that help relieve pressure on our food supply chain is greater than ever. Researchers of IT company IBM are working on this. These experts predict the 5 in 5: 5 new methods that will come into force in 5 years and meet the demand for more sustainability. The following technologies can be found in this overview:

  • Artificial intelligence to detect germs in food at home
  • New recycling methods
  • Blockchain to prevent food waste and to focus more on sustainability

More transparency thanks to blockchain

IBM’s collaboration with The Sustainable Shrimp Partnership (SSP) is an example of blockchain’s efficiency. SSP is a group of leading companies that wants to transform the future of aquaculture. They are focused on better co-operation and more transparency. SSP has been part of the IBM Food Trust Ecosystem since 2019. It is a system based on blockchain technology: it makes shrimp fully traceable in every part of the supply chain.

More trust thanks to IBM Food Trust

The IBM Food Trust System is a secure platform where workers of the SSP document each stage in the supply chain. Because the data are unchangeable, consumers have more transparency about the route their food follows.

The block chain system also combats food fraud. Wrong labelling is no longer possible and the system ensures impeccable quality. An app allows customers to check the route their food follows. This higher traceability at any time improves the relationship with the consumer: there is room again for more trust.

Blockchain: the future

Blockchain is able to change the future of the retail sector. The higher transparency stimulates a sustainable food network that excels in traceability, quality and trust. Benefit from sustainable production as well.

Read more about IBM Food Trust

Consumer Industry Lead IBM Benelux

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