‘100% traceable food is possible’: Blockchain-based platform developed for supply chain mapping, product traceability, and claim verification


By Flora Southey, Food Navigator



Fairfood is on a mission to ‘uncover the human fingerprint in food’. And the Dutch not-for-profit’s recently launched Trace platform is doing just that, by ‘powering sustainable sourcing’, raising consumer awareness, and sharing added value with the people ‘behind the food’.


The Trace platform was born out of a need for a ‘farmer-focused, impact-oriented, and consumer-facing’ way to track and trace in the food supply chain.


In the absence of such a product on the market, Fairfood decided to build one itself, the not-for-profit’s Tech Director Marten van Gils explained during its online product launch.


Together with industry partner Verstegen Spices & Sauces, Fairfood first leveraged blockchain to trace 50,000 units of nutmeg from Indonesia right through the supply chain to the Co-op supermarket shelves.


And most recently, Fairfood teamed with green coffee trading company Trabocca to trace the company’s supply from the Guji region in Ethiopia. A total of 278 coffee farmers participated in the project, which allowed Trabocca and its customers understand who grew the coffee, how much they were paid, and whether this amount was considered a ‘food price’ for that specific region.


The platform represents an ‘important step’, said Fairtrade Director Sander de Jong, in moving the food system towards transparency, traceability, and with that, sustainability.


Developing a ‘virtual handshake’​


Tech-focused Fairfood advocates to improve the socio-economic conditions of vulnerable people in our supply chain, including smallholder farmers.


“As a human driven NGO, we want to help people to uncover the human fingerprint on their food,”​ de Jong told online attendees. “We envisage a world where we can all enjoy good food and to do this, the food system needs to be sustainable and distributional value must be fair for all actors along the value chain.”​


Yet for Fairfood, this is where it hits a ‘roadblock’. Farmers, de Jong said, are often too far removed from the process. “Often farmers do not even know what happens to the produce after they sell it.”​


De Jong continued: “As consumers, we also face the same problem. We do not know what happens behind the scenes. As responsible consumers, and companies, we need to start thinking about those who are ‘behind the food’, because they are basically the engine of our food system.” ​


With technology, Fairfood says ‘100% traceable food is possible’. “What we really like about technologies such as blockchain is that it requires a ‘virtual handshake’…of data. And farmers, no matter how far away they are, can give their digital ‘thumbs up’ to verify important information.” ​


How does Trace work?​ ...


Sharing value and predicted uptake​ ...