Blockchain for the food industry—Wishful thinking or disruptive investment?

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November 13, 2018
Blockchain for the food industry—Wishful thinking or disruptive investment?
Refrigerated & Frozen Foods

Improving food safety and recall mitigation

When faced with a food safety crisis, manufacturers can use blockchain to mitigate the negative ramifications of a recall. They can easily trace a problem to its source, since every step is recorded in the digital ledger.

For example, they may look back and detect that a frozen product was not kept at an adequate temperature during transport to multiple groceries in a region. They can then find out which stores received the affected goods and do a targeted recall to remove products from only those stores. This way, they don’t have to do a sweeping recall of everything, inadvertently removing acceptable goods in the process. A manufacturer can then minimize the amount of waste generated from product destruction and lost profits.

Optimizing replenishment and shelf life of goods

The disconnects across the supply chain force most cold chain companies to approach demand planning and inventory management from a reactive model. Demand increases, so they up production. Items run out of stock or sit past their expiration date, so they send more to replenish refrigerators and freezers.

Unfortunately, a reactive approach also results in costly supply and demand imbalances. Companies end up with excess channel inventory. Grocery stores and retailers can’t sell products past their expiration date, which creates new problems in what to do with all of the excess stock. At the same time, manufacturers may under-project demand and not deliver enough replenishment, resulting in out-of-stocks, unhappy customers and lost sales.

Instead, real-time data flow through blockchain can provide instant insight into what people are buying, as well as which products are nearing expiration. Companies can thereby proactively plan production upstream in the supply chain, rather than react to stock-outs. Thus, they can always get the right foods to stores to satisfy demand and optimize shelf life.

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