The figures may be a little past their sell-by date, but in 2010 the Grocery Manufacturers’ Association put the cost of food fraud, including counterfeiting and economically motivated adulteration, at over $10 billion — a significant sum in what was then a $2.1-trillion industry.
To protect customers and to back up claims about the quality of their products, supermarket chains need to be able to trace the provenance of ingredients back through the supply chain all the way to the farm.
Carrefour, a French supermarket chain with 12,300 stores in over 30 countries, has been working on food traceability for years with an ad-hoc mix of information stored in its own ERP systems and those of its suppliers, as well as on paper and in the databases of auditors. Now the company is making the data more accessible by migrating it to a blockchain.
With information scattered across various systems, it could take as long as two days to obtain full details of a specific batch of products from a food processor or distributor, but these days consumers want assurance at the push of a button or the scan of a QR code.