Indian Food & Beverages (F&B) industry is going through a lot of changes of late. Whether it is a growing popularity of the cloud kitchen or increasing dominance of app-based food delivery aggregators, the continuous change has become a new normal for the industry. The evolving business models have brought a lot of convenience to the customers although the concerns about standards of hygiene or the quality of raw materials used have also aggravated. Many incidents that have happened lately including the one in which a delivery agent was found to be eating from the order of the customer have led to the creation of doubt in the customers’ mind. Of course, the stringent regulations and policy measures are required to address these concerns although it is apparent that better transparency and traceability of the supply chain can help to prevent recurring of these kinds of incidents.
Usage of Blockchain
Blockchain can be of immense use for the F&B industry. The open ledger technology can easily give the manufacturers, distributors, restaurants, and retailers clear cut information of the product shipments that pass through a complex web of interrelated stakeholders. The blockchain technology can also help to improve customers’ confidence by acting as a source of a certificate of excellence.
The standard operating cycle in the F&B industry places high confidence in each other’s supply chain. This is more of a business compulsion as stringent checking will lead to inordinate delays in order processing and can potentially hurt the business prospects of the retailers. This convention holds well in the normal times; however, in case of a food crisis caused by contaminated ingredients, the tracking of the source of contamination becomes extremely difficult for the concerned parties. In most of such cases to further avoid the risk, organizations recall the entire supply lot of all the products – a decision which could severely hurt the prospects of a business. The best solution to this kind of a problem is to identify specific product batch which has caused the contamination, and that’s exactly where the relevance of blockchain comes into the picture.
How can Blockchain help?
With the help of blockchain technology, record of each batch of the product can be created which will get updated automatically as it moves from the agricultural fields to the homes of the individual buyers. The best part is that the record cannot be edited without the permission of every stakeholder involved in the supply chain more importantly; through the blockchain records, a data trail will be created which, in turn, will help in tracking and tracing of the product batches within the supply chain. This enhanced visibility will allow the food companies to identify the source of contamination with greater accuracy and more speed. This also means that the total product recall will not be mandated as suppliers are able to locate contaminated batch and can quickly share the information with the retailer as well as the customer about the specific contaminated items.
The use of blockchain technology will also give customers more control over the information. From a larger perspective, making the food industry more transparent will likely result in better adherence to the standards by the concerned parties and help to rebuild the faith of the consumers about the authenticity of the food sources. Yes, we agree that blockchain today is in its early days, but it is also a fact that the technology is spreading its wings very fast. It has already manifested its benefits in industries like financial technology, automobiles, supply chain, and logistics, etc. In the case of the food industry too, if the blockchain is used judiciously, then the whole ecosystem of the industry will be benefited from its adoption.