The Blockchain Application In Agri-Food Traceability

Abstract – In recent year, the food sector has been accountable for several crises, and as the market gets more global it is difficult to keep control of and trust the information. As people start to focus on food safety, building up a food traceability system has become more and more important in every country. Therefore, we tried to build a food traceability system. With the advantage of blockchains such as immutability, consensus, disintermediation and distributed ledgers we can establish a trusted food traceability system by these important characteristics. In this paper, we will study the blockchain technology, the background of the food supply chain and traceability system first, and then display the conceptual framework of the food traceability system using  Hyperledger Fabric technology. Finally, we demonstrate the building process of the system. With the trusted information in traceability, it would effectively enhance food safety by the track of raw materials to the customers.

1. Introduction

The issues of food safety and information transparency about product origins are no longer a consumer issue, but also attract the attention of both management levels and organizations  [1]. Globalization of the supply chain makes supply more complex and difficult to control. Besides, the current development of information technology also creates more challenges in supply chain management. Blockchain technology appears as an effective solution, resolving all difficulties between supply chain management. With the blockchain advantage such as invariant, consensus, dispersion and distributed ledger, we have can establish a reliable food traceability system by these important characteristics.

Therefore, this study focuses on building a traceability system using Blockchain technology for a fruit-producing company in Thailand. We first learned about Blockchain technology, deployed the workshop to identify the current challenges of the supply chain in general and the food supply chain in particular. Then, we provide a supply chain structure that is compatible with the chosen technology platform to build a traceability system. Next, we show how we apply this technology to the source retrieval system. Finally, a brief conclusion about what we have done and the direction for future development.

2. Blockchain Technology

Blockchain technology is a form of digital ledger (Digital Ledger) in which data will be stored in a sequential manner in blocks, and to be logged into the Blockchain need to be consensus of the majority of nodes (nodes) join the system, and that consensus is strictly regulated by predefined logic (for example, who has rights). Digital Ledger is an important idea about standardizing Blockchain data for Supply Chain, i.e data cannot be changed but cannot be changed beyond the predetermined standard – more detail  “change” is here  does not mean that a variable of value 1 turns into 2, but it will be saved as a variable of value 1 and then converted by a competent unit to value 2 – that is, save not only the price Value variable that saves the variable value history.

Blockchain has 7 notable features such as Link, Immutable, Security, Transparency, Every time, Everywhere, Standardization.

3. The current challenges of supply chain

A typical supply chain has procurement, production, storage, and distribution. It has a supplier, partner, subcontractor, and customer relationships. It also has an internal organization by function or department. In Silo mode, each department or partner uses its own systems to track products and services. That means friction goes up and transparency goes down.

Consequently, it has become more difficult to trace events in the entire chain. Moreover, due to the lack of transparency in the supply chain [2], buyers and customers cannot be sure of the true value of the products or services. Also, there are several elements related to the supply chain that cannot be tracked, such as environmental incidents.

Figure 1. The information flow of Supply Chain in the silo mode.

4. Real Case

4.1 Overview Agri-food supply chain

Figure. Agri-food supply chain model.

Model of a food supply chain includes Supplier, Manufacturer, Distributor, Transporter, Retailer, Auditor, Consumer.

When building a system of food supply chain need to pay attention to issues such as:

  • Decentralization: the supply chain has many stakeholders, various supply processes, identifying the needs of each participant, the functions and tasks of the participating party.
  • Traceability: this is an important feature of the supply chain, related to product quality, for example, what products are made from, where, at what time, with what environmental conditions,…
  • The information should be clear, the system is always ready in terms of data retrieval.
  • Security and privacy issues.

In addition, during the operation process, the supply chain also has many issues to be addressed and noticeable such as food fraud, illegal production, Food bones illness, food recall/loss.

To solve these problems, we have chosen the Hyperledger Sawtooth platform [3] of Blockchain technology to build a traceability system for a dried fruit production company in Chanthaburi, Thailand.

4.2 The advantages of applying blockchain to supply chain.

  • Reduce or eliminate fraud and errors
  • Improve inventory management
  • Minimize courier costs
  • Reduce delays from paperwork
  • Identify issues faster
  • Increase consumer and partner trust
  • How blockchain apply to supply chain

We can set up a Traceability ecosystem that allows important third parties can join and work together with the Supply Chain data in a trustless and transparency way while being rewarded in the process.

Figure 2. How blockchain applies to supply chain.

The main goal is to ensure that there is a link that exists between the physical setup and the digital world. This is to ensure that all the physical products that go through the supply chain process have digital identifications. For the identification process to work well and have a careful tracking of the physical products, the blockchain will integrate the use of QR codes which can uniquely identify the goods and also serves as a way of linking it to the traceability platform. There are also tags which can come in handy and include the use of other tags such as RFID [4]. Each of the goods will be identified both from the production and the manufacturing stage which is where the supply chain begins.

  • Our Supply Chain structure.

In this case, our supply chain structure includes  Farmer, Manufacture, distributor, retailer, consumer, Auditor. The other aspect which is also crucial for the blockchain is to ensure that each transaction that takes place in the supply chain is accounted for. Having this feature eases the audit process and as a result, the use of readily available devices present at all levels would come in handy.

Figure 3. Supply chain structure.

We will build applications on smartphones and on the web to provide an interface to support customers and management agencies to view detailed information about the supply chain. With the mobile application, customers simply scan the QR code on the product to retrieve the information recorded in the chain, the information is reliable because it is verified by the auditors.

In addition, Lina cooperated with GS1 [5] to enhance the competitive advance for businesses in exporting and promoting images. GS1 will assist us in the application of coding standard, the solutions in accordance with specific standards. In our system, GS1 has an important role, Auditor, to ensure the enterprise do the right thing at the beginning.

5. Conclusion

In this paper, a food traceability system is established, based on the blockchain technology. This system records the information of every link in the food supply chain and integrates all the details using blockchain, which realizes the traceability management for quality and safety food supply.  With the improvement of the food traceability system, we hope that people do not need to worry about food safety problems. In further studies, we would like to build up a system for supply chain management with blockchain technology based on current traceability systems.

6. References

[1] IUON-CHANG LIN, “Food traceability system using blockchain,” IASTEM International Conference, 2107.
[2] Sean Crossey, “5 Problems Facing the Global Food Supply Chain,” Food safety tech, 2017.
[3] Paul, “What are the differences between Ethereum, Hyperledger Fabric and Hyperledger Sawtooth?,” coinmonks, 2018.
[4], “WHAT IS RFID?,”, p.
[5] GS1, “”.