Should food manufacturers invest in Blockchain?

The hype about Blockchain is real, according to Petter Olsen, a scientist at Norwegian research institute Nofima. 

“There is a big problem that Blockchain is being oversold at the moment; that the technology providers are pretending that you will automatically have authentic products if you use it. That is completely wrong, and I am negative about these over-exaggerated claims. 

But that doesn’t mean it can’t also be helpful for the food industry.

Blockchain has very important attributes that can fix two fundamental problems in the food industry,” ​he said.

What is Blockchain?

Vice president of food at certification agency Bureau Veritas Vincent Bourdil gives this definition​: “Blockchain is a short name for a distributed chain of blocks that traces transactions and assets. It is information which is encrypted, time-stamped and not removable which is openly shared on a ledger by many thousands of computers at the same time.”

There’s no need for technophobes to go running. There are simpler ways to think about it, according to Olsen.  

“Every time someone says Blockchain, you should mentally substitute it for the word database,”​ he said. “A Blockchain is a database that is always online, has many identical copies, is synchronised every 10 minutes and encrypted – meaning it is incorruptible.”

“Don’t overcomplicate it. It’s simply a database with these extra properties.”

The first scenario where Blockchain can play a role is in disincentivising fraud thanks to the incorruptibility of the information it stores. Once information is saved on the Blockchain, a continual peer-to-peer verification system means it cannot be changed.

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