Traceability and Transparency in the Supply Chain

Case Study

Blockchain Technology Creates a Safer, More Transparent Food Supply Chain

Visionary startup helps ensure trust in the food supply chain from farm to fork with blockchain-driven transparency.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates 48 million people are affected annually by foodborne illnesses, with each outbreak requiring a thorough and costly investigation to find the source and control the spread of the responsible pathogen.

The Client

Named one of the Top 25 Most Innovative Ag-Tech Startups in 2017 by Forbes, ripe.io is a San Francisco-based startup whose mission is to leverages blockchain technology to create a digital food-supply chain that guarantees accountability, transparency, and – ultimately – trust between all parties, including food producers, distributors, and consumers. 

The Challenge

When a foodborne illness outbreak is confirmed, multiple government agencies, including the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), and the CDC, go to work determining the cause of the illness and tracking down its source.

A failure to adhere to strict food safety and sanitation procedures at any point along the food supply chain can potentially result in contamination, and with so many points of contact involved, the process of tracking down the weak link can be complicated and time consuming.

And it's not just investigators who could benefit from a more comprehensive tracking system. Tracking and reporting methods vary significantly from one actor to another, and each supply chain participant may receive food products with little to no detailed information regarding the conditions under which those products have been handled. 

Transparency throughout this process is crucial to satisfactory business relationships, not to mention the interest and welfare of consumers. However, until recently, developing a digital system robust and scalable enough to manage such a complex tracking system was simply not feasible.

The Solution

With the advent of blockchain technology, everything has changed.

The leaders at ripe.io recognized that a decentralized supply chain database enables a previously impossible level of transparency, providing each actor along the chain – as well as outside entities, like outbreak investigators – a clear, uncompromised picture of a product's step-by-step journey from its origin.

Our Contribution

ripe.io engaged Object Computing's blockchain engineers to help them build the foundations for this revolutionary new supply-chain tracking system. We architected and developed a blockchain-enabled application that integrates existing data collection systems, while maintaining security and privacy, enabling transparency and trust across the supply chain. 

The result is a tracking system that delivers an unprecedented amount of visibility and verification at every step along the chain.

World-Changing Potential

ripe-io's platform stands to revolutionize the way businesses and individuals interact with food, whether they're producing, transporting, preparing, or consuming it.

For example ...

  • Visibility into farming practices allows farmers to earn recognition and ROI for implementing innovations that improve product quality and reduce harmful environmental impacts.
  • Distributors with access to more concrete product details are able to provide transparent justification for pricing strategies based upon supply and demand, as well as factors many consumers care about, such as farmer's and rancher's sustainability and free-range practices.
  • Food processors gain a new level of trust with consumers when marketing products labeled as "organic," "vegan," or "gluten free."
  • Grocers can confidently market and sell foods labeled as locally grown, free-range, organic, etc., knowing the data to back up their claims is available and accurate.
  • Restaurants can list the exact provenance for the ingredients they use in their dishes in real-time, allowing them to deliver a superior level of service.
  • Consumers gain a new window into the products they consume, allowing them to shop smarter and support those suppliers that engage in practices they approve of.
  • And, as mentioned previously, healthcare officials and foodborne-illness investigators gain the ability to pinpoint the source of harmful bacteria and stop outbreaks quickly, potentially saving many lives.

For more about the potential impact of ripe-io's platform, check out the Forbes article, The Blockchain of Food.

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