A group of livestock farmers in Arkansas, supported by Heifer USA, is using blockchain technology so customers can tell where their dinner comes from – what you might call ‘meat’ your blockchain. The Grass Roots Farmers’ Cooperative will apply blockchain technology to trace its products from ‘farm to fork’. Its aim is to provide consumers with information about the origin and quality of the meat they buy.
“Americans have an increasing interest in better understanding what they’re eating. According to the 2016 Label Insight Study, 83 percent of consumers want more information about what’s in their food, and I totally believe it,” said Cody Hopkins, Grass Roots general manager and founding member. “When I learned about this technology, I thought ‘this is the solution.’ It’s the perfect way for Grass Roots to offer folks total transparency. [UK-based technology company] Provenance has developed a platform that levels the playing field for small-scale farmers and puts information directly in consumers’ hands.”
How will you ‘meat’ your blockchain?
Already a mainstay in the financial sector, blockchain technology enables verification of information. In this food chain example, shoppers and diners will scan QR codes placed on Grass Roots products. These codes will inform them:
- from where the meat came
- how that location raised the animals.
In addition, a ‘digital meat history’ will include stories of the people — from farmer to butcher — who contributed to the final product. (There is no mention or picture of the original cow: that is probably understandable.)
San Francisco-based Golden Gate Meat Company, which sells Grass Roots products, will debut the first trial of this technology. Its customers will be able to use advanced tools in its stores to find out where the food they are buying came from.
The blockchain technology base
Grass Roots is a small-batch meat company working to restore consumer confidence in the integrity of its food. It believes it shouldn’t be difficult to understand what you eat and how it was raised.
Using Provenance blockchain technology it hopes to empower consumers to ask questions which explore:
- the differences between farms and factories
- how scale is a critical differentiator in animal husbandry, environmental stewardship and food safety.
- plugins to enable the gateway to the stories, impact, awards and standards behind products
- physical products with a unique ID for the tracking of each item (through this ID, customers can access the secure history, with verified claims and ‘enriched with content from along the supply chain’.
Provenance builds traceability for materials and products using a blockchain, because this is secure. It is also auditable, unchangeable and open. In contrast, until relatively recently, complex centralised data systems were the only way to deliver a trustworthy traceability.
Provenance believes blockchain technology changes this centralised fundamental, by recording and tracking the attributes and journey of every material part in the supply chain. To enhance the applicability of its technology. Provenance is working towards an open traceability protocol. Its idea is, with openness and accessibility, anyone can track the provenance of anything – from coffee beans to a roll of fabric to that juicy steak from Arkansas.
What does it mean
The relevance of blockchain technology to the finance sector involves security, immutability and accessibility. For money-based activities the attractions are obvious.
Yet money-based values are not all. This improbable, but eminently understandable example confirms this. The ‘meat’ your blockchain initiative demonstrates that security, immutability and accessibility apply elsewhere, especially where this involves safety and confidence.