Connecting the Links: Blockchain to the Rescue of Value Chains

  • U.S. retail giant Walmart is testing a service developed jointly with IBM to monitor its value chain with respect to certain products: for example, in China, Walmart monitors pork with the aim of improving food safety. Blockchain enables them to act more proactively in case an item is potentially contaminated or if its source is contaminated. Each actors registers which farm the product comes from; the farm’s track record; how the specific product was distributed; etc. It is then possible to identify the specific compromised item and remove it without including the whole series of related products. This, in turn, allows for increased efficiency and speed when it comes to dealing with a crisis.
  • British startup Provenance uses blockchain technology to help retailers, producers, and restaurants in the fishing industry to find out if fishing was done legally, sustainably and without human and/or labor rights violations, common in this industry. In a pilot project being carried out in Indonesia with tuna fishing, fishermen send text messages to record fishing on a blockchain platform. These products can then be verified by final consumers in supermarkets or restaurants using their smartphones. This system has begun to replace the usual labels and other paper-based documents used to trace and / or validate the origin of the products.
  • Through the assignment of an anonymous token, forest service certification company Catenaut tracks each tree trunk that is sent to a sawmill using GPS information. This information is then combined with certification information from a forest compliance system. The token identifier is followed and validated using blockchain. Different NGOs and companies have shown interest in replicating this application.
  • Startup Everledger has developed its own blockchain version of the Kimberley standard certification process to prevent the commercialization of diamonds from conflict zones in Africa. In addition, Australian company BHP Billiton is planning to launch a pilot project for mining using blockchain as platform. The key idea here is to completely automate certification processes.

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