Supply chains are complex—that’s an understatement and not a novel statement either. But supply chains are also extremely fascinating. It’s actually eye-opening to see all the activity when you peel back the layers of opacity and expose all the connection points from producer to consumer. And consumers today are more intrigued and passionate about learning where their food and products come from, how they were produced, traded and processed. Thus, they look to brands able to demonstrate this knowledge.
This means brands actually need to understand their supply chains and supplier partnerships, as opposed to turning a status quo blind eye. Brands are leveraging transparency, verification, and traceability to win back consumer trust, which has eroded due to decades of leaving consumers in the dark.
Enter blockchain technology, the latest tool that helps companies understand and map the origin and handling of all their ingredients. New Hope Network’s Bill Giebler in Nutrition Business Journal’s (NBJ) September 2019 transparency issue helps the industry grasp the benefits of this esoteric distributed ledgering system that records undisputed transactions between two parties, derived from the cryptocurrency ledgering system, as providing a permanent record of each supply chain touchpoint. Blockchain brings visibility to all movements and transactions of ingredients, from seed to QR-coded box.
See how the following nutritional ingredient supplier, brand and large retailer are leveraging block chain partnerships to make their supply chains less complex, more transparent, trusted, and a problem-solving asset.
Cepham uses blockchain to fulfill quality commitments
Supplement supply chains are extremely complex, especially in an increasingly globalized marketplace. But innovative companies are transforming one of the industry’s greatest challenges—the threat of ingredient adulteration—into an opportunity for differentiation. For nutritional ingredient supplier Cepham, Inc., the key lies in TagOne, a cloud-based blockchain technology that, according to Cepham President Anand Swaroop, Ph.D., will help ensure the supply industry upholds its quality commitments.
“While there have been breakthroughs in product innovation and increased consumer awareness as to the benefits of natural products, the minimal barrier to entry to the supplement market has allowed unscrupulous players into the industry,” says Swaroop.
He believes blockchain is the true breakthrough for the industry. Cepham is using it to track suppliers, buyers, products and ingredients for full seed-to-shelf transparency.
“We are now able to convey our commitment to transparency and genuine product quality to our buyers and ultimately consumers,” says Swaroop.
Token relies on BEXT360 platform for blockchain-powered coffee
Coffee brand Token signed on to using BEXT360’s blockchain technology last year as a means to becoming the world’s first blockchain-powered coffee. This brand—a collaboration between Moyee Coffee and FairChain Foundation—cuts out the supply-chain middlemen, creating a direct link between western coffee drinkers and the communities that farm, harvest and roast their beans. Not only does this improve traceability in terms of product origins and quality, but it also helps ensure farmers are paid a living-wage for their coffee beans, while also providing direct access to capital that can be used to empower the producers and local economy.
The technology solutions offered by Bext360’s blockchain software allow each interaction in the supply chain to be tracked based on producer information, contact dates, locations, quality metrics, and sustainability metrics. That information can be used to create brand credibility and consumer engagement for true transparency and authenticity across all touch points in the supply chain.
For Token, using BEXT360 technology to create a public blockchain system means coffee drinkers can access data to confirm where the coffee was sourced, who produced it and how much they were paid. Additionally, each bag of Token comes with an actual token that has a value of .50 euros. Consumers can use a special blockchain platform called Krypc to either use the money for a discount on their coffee purchase, or invest it directly in the company or in the farmers themselves, thereby creating a true “community-owned coffee” experience.
Albertsons drives food safety with IBM Food Trust
Albertsons Companies is one of the latest retail giants to join the IBM Food Trust, a blockchain network launched in 2017 to help promote greater transparency and collaboration along the supply chain. One of the largest food and drug retailers in the United States with approximately 2,300 stores across the country, Albertsons began piloting Food Trust technology this past spring for tracing bulk romaine lettuce from one of its distribution hubs—a product often at the center of contamination outbreaks. This technology, which comprises a secure and transparent ecosystem of data and transactions that take place throughout the lifespan of a product, provides an invaluable key to food safety and building trust, not only among supply chain stakeholders, but also with consumers.
Albertsons is just one of several mega retailers to turn to IBM Food Trust to help ensure traceability along the supply chain. Other partners include Walmart and Carrefour, and manufacturers such as Nestle, Dole, Golden State Foods and Driscoll’s, in addition to small and medium farms and producers.
Editor's note: Sister websites NewHope.com and NaturalProductsINSIDER.com are collaborating to explore supply chain issues, helping to support innovation throughout the natural products industry. Interested in hemp supply chain issues? Check out this article on a groundbreaking initiative in Colorado.