Technology

VeChain serves up ready-to-use blockchain applications for food safety

In an attempt to sweeten the deal for food brands reluctant to turn to blockchain because it’s expensive, the traceability company has released a cost-conscious platform

There have been a lot of examples about how extensively blockchain is being used to enhance safety along food supply chains—an issue that’s been brought into sharp focus because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Although the technology shows a lot of promise, there’s one problem: it requires an upfront investment, making it expensive for companies to embrace. Many end up building their own applications from scratch, and struggle to understand exactly how it works.

The platform’s goal is to make it quicker, cheaper and easier to track food (Photo: VeChain)

Now, the traceability platform VeChain has announced a suite of ready-to-use blockchain applications that can be deployed and implemented quickly.

Known as ToolChain, the service will provide templates that have been modelled around the solutions that are already being used by enterprise clients. The platform has been geared around three priorities: high standardization, light cost, and flexible payment—all while ensuring that customizations can be made around a client’s specific needs.

Serving up blockchain

VeChain said that its solution will cover a variety of use cases across the food and beverage industry. From fresh food and dairy products to imported goods and wine, companies using the platform will be able to complete verification quickly.

But the company says there’s a bigger advantage at play: the ability of food businesses to enhance their brand image and bolster levels of consumer confidence. VeChain is highlighting that the data that’s stored on the blockchain can be shared with customers through QR codes on packaging—and it can be quite a powerful marketing tool. Last but not least, food companies can also capitalize on the data that’s generated from their own business, and unlock crucial efficiencies along the way.

Tasty numbers

In August, Modern Consensus reported on a series of new developments in food safety, with a Brazilian steakhouse serving up blockchain-tracked produce to hungry locals and legislators in Washington, D.C. The Food and Drug Administration is looking into new technologies including blockchain—and VeChain has also teamed up with a packaging company offering smart tags that can achieve greater automation through the supply chain.

Figures from Cointelegraph Consulting recently predicted that the industry could save a delicious $155 billion a year if IoT and blockchain solutions were jointly implemented.

And that’s just for starters. An IBM report released in June 2020 featured a poll of almost 19,000 consumers in 28 countries. It found that 71% of those surveyed said traceability is important to them, and that they’d be willing to pay a premium for it. Of those who said traceability was very or extremely important, more than 70% said that they’d be willing to pay a premium of about 35% on current prices. Looks like those profit margins just started to look a little healthier.

With big brands including Walmart and Dole vowing to increase their use of blockchain technology, there’s clearly an increased appetite for this technology when it comes to proving the provenance of food and drink. Solutions such as the one provided by VeChain could make this intimidating technology a little easier to stomach for curious companies, all while making blockchain more palatable for the public at large.

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C Sephton is a journalist with an interest in cryptocurrencies, personal finance, and financial inclusion—as well as the challenges the crypto industry faces in achieving mainstream adoption. He owns cryptocurrencies.