By Landon Manning
Michaela Balzarova from the University of Canterbury in Christchurch, New Zealand, has been researching the possible applications of distributed ledger technology in global food supply chains and believes there is strong potential.
In an article published on science news website Phys.org, Professor Balzarova elucidates on both her methodology and some of the largest applications she has identified. Working with the university’s College of Business and Law, Balzarova has been focusing on the supply chain aspects of food production more than its biology, but has nevertheless identified multiple applications that can reduce food waste.
The key in achieving this development, she claims, is the possibility for transparency inherent in the trustless nature of distributed ledger platforms. For example, attempts at improving sustainability in coffee plantations ignore the fact that coffee products “may have gone through as many as 26 intermediaries that may have added no value to the product or service and consumers have no way of knowing if the price they have paid is fair.” Balzarova believes that the elimination of these middlemen, by using transparent blockchain ledgers to monitor the entire life of a product from field to shelf, can significantly reduce industry waste.
This radical shift in production logistics will also serve to empower producers and consumers, she claims. Balzarova said, “We need to focus models on how we can feed everyone on a fair basis, improving comfort and standard of living for everyone on this planet. It's not just an issue of getting rid of intermediaries. We need to encourage users to take ownership of data stored on their behalf, and blockchain [technology] enables this.”
Balzarova is planning to add a more international focus to her research, to go along with the global characteristic of supply chains, teaming up with Austrian scientists to set up a system for monitoring the labor conditions of food suppliers. She will also be formally presenting her findings to date at the European Academy of Management, later in 2019.