Blockchain technology could be the next big thing in food
When we plan our editorial calendar, we try to reference the schedules of the big events in our industry, so that our coverage is timely.
So, planning the May 2018 issue and seeing that the FSMA Sanitary Transportation of Food (STF) rule would go into effect for small and medium-sized businesses the month before, it seemed to me that the STF would likely be something of individuals in the industry would like to know more about.
What I didn’t plan for a year ago is how much experts in this field would want to talk about blockchain technology. It seems that in the last few months I have received an email with the word blockchain at least once a week. While it’s not as ubiquitous as the phrase Internet of Things, it’s definitely the new buzzword.
I still don’t have a concise way to describe blockchain technology, like I did for IoT – I used to describe it as your toaster that has a Facebook page and posts status updates on your fridge. The best I can do now is to quote other definitions, describing it as a distributed digital ledger.
When I started interviewing people for the STF article and blockchain kept popping up, I was actually only familiar with it in terms of Bitcoin, which uses technology to power the cryptocurrency payment system. To better handle all of this, I went to the only person I know who owns Bitcoin: the IT support manager at our office. We had a conversation of about an hour about the trend, and when I spoke about blockchain in terms of food safety, a spark lit up and said, “Yes, I can definitely see how useful that would be.”
That’s the same enthusiasm that I ran into when interviewing various experts on applying blockchain technology to ensure food safety throughout the supply chain. Experts envision this as unlocking the ability of a true end-to-end food safety communication and verification tool, used throughout the supply chain, from producer to retailer, making all information visible to all parties. .
Blockchain is just one of the transformative technologies to be reckoned with in the years to come. Some of the others are artificial intelligence and mixed realities (virtual and augmented), which are especially useful in the context of plant operations.
If you’re thinking, “Yes, these concepts are not that new,” I hear you, but what could change the game is the sophistication of the technologies and how they will be applied and used in modern manufacturing facilities.
Also, another important factor to consider is that this 5G is coming soon, and that could open up many opportunities to connect people, tools and equipment.