Advocates of blockchain view supply chain management as a “killer app.”
Blockchain provides a way for trading partners to share traceability data and break out of the “stove-pipe” supply chain management software that has hampered the industry in the past.
A few important points:
- Blockchain is a “too big to fail” technology—it makes too much sense;
- Blockchain is easy to implement. The internals of the technology are sophisticated, but the implementation is relatively straightforward and widely accessible—cloud service providers Amazon, Microsoft, and others are already offering Blockchain-as-a-Service (BaaS);
- Because of this, many players—if not all players—will implement blockchain solutions;
- And the change will be rapid.
The consequence of this for the food industry: we can expect many different blockchain systems for food traceability—two crypto-currencies dedicated entirely to coffee have already launched in 2018.
As a result, industry players will need to “inter-operate” with one another—handling incompatible data from diverse sources.
Over some period of time, standards will emerge to facilitate data exchange. But this will follow an intense phase of jockeying for position, as larger players and new entrants eager to disrupt something will see blockchain as a competitive advantage.
This outcome is very likely in the global coffee markets. Coffee is produced in over 40 countries and ranks among the most highly traded commodities in the global marketplace.
GeoCertify has already traced 44 million pounds of coffee from 21 origins. We have recorded quality scores for over 40,000 individual cups of coffee; we have registered over 25,000 small-holding farmers; we have designed solutions ranging from plot-level traceability for a private estate up to the entire Sidama region for the Ethiopia Commodity Exchange.
Throughout that experience, GeoCertify has never designed or positioned its traceability system as a “sole provider solution.”
As we add blockchain authentication to GeoCertify’s Integrated Supply Chain, we approach it as a way to transfer authenticated data from one system to another.
For this reason, we consider blockchain part of our critical development path, and a major part of our 2018 development plan.