14 Mar How Food Producers Can Leverage Blockchain to Build Consumer Trust
Today’s consumers are better informed and more health conscious than ever before. As a result, consumers are interested in learning about the ingredients of their food and where they came from. These trends are leading to huge shifts in the food industry, making supply chains more complex while consumers simultaneously demand more transparency. Food suppliers have to move rapidly to meet these changing demands, but that’s easier said than done.
Foodborne illness is a top concern for consumers, but that’s just the tip of the iceberg. meaning food suppliers can’t build trust with product packaging alone.
Further compounding the issue is the increasing demand for niche products, like gluten-free foods, meat alternatives, locally-sourced produce and more. These issues pose a formidable challenge to food suppliers. They have to meet unprecedented demands for variety and adapt to rapidly evolving trends, all while providing greater consistency, safety, and transparency to the end consumer.
Blockchain offers a comprehensive solution to these complex and interlocking challenges for food suppliers. While blockchain can be utilized to build consumer trust in a variety of ways, here are a few key examples.
Blockchain Offers a Proactive Approach to Food Safety
Traditionally, the food industry has approached food safety issues reactively as opposed to proactively. Blockchain completely changes this dynamic, as it enables companies to identify safety or quality concerns early in the food chain at trust nodes. As the first step in building and maintaining consumer trust is avoiding failure in the first place, this is crucial for food suppliers.
The traceability offered by blockchain further bolsters food safety efforts. Current systems make track and trace a slow, laborious process, hindered by the fact that many companies still use paper records. Blockchain can incorporate data on the entire supply chain in a single system, allowing companies to track food in a matter of seconds. Considering that the process traditionally takes several days, this can save food suppliers millions of dollars while protecting their reputation.
Blockchain Alleviates Health & Safety Concerns
Beyond outbreaks and acute illnesses, consumers are growing more informed and concerned about the health effects of various foods. The health concerns (both real and manufactured) of GMO products, pesticides, additives and more weigh heavily on the minds of today’s consumer. Additionally, a recent study indicated that 82% of Americans feel they have been deceived by a food label, which only makes it harder for food producers to build trust.
Blockchain can provide the necessary transparency to alleviate this issue. Companies like Where Food Comes From already exist to provide third-party verification for claims such as “organic” or “grass-fed.” Blockchain builds on this by tracking and providing information on the entire supply chain, pulling back the veil on where their food comes from and who’s involved. Food suppliers can then capitalize on this transparency to guarantee their customers are getting what it says on the tin.
Blockchain Addresses Environmental and Ethical Concerns as Well
Beyond safety and health concerns, consumers are increasingly invested in the environmental and ethical ramifications of their food consumption (fair trade coffee, meat-free diets, etc.). Paired with eroding consumer trust, this puts the onus on food suppliers to prove their products are sourced in an ethical and environmentally-friendly manner.
In theory, by scanning the label in-store, consumers could see every organization involved in production and assess their reputation for themselves. While this level of transparency may seem excessive, it will likely prove essential for combating the growing skepticism of consumers. In a time of record distrust, unprecedented transparency will give food suppliers a critical edge on the competition.
Blockchain is poised to revolutionize food supply chains. If you’d like to learn more, we invite you to join us at Manufacturing in America 2019 in Detroit on March 20-21st. This is an exclusive opportunity to network with over 3,000 C-level executives in the manufacturing industry and gain great insights on groundbreaking new technologies in the food sector.