Trade

Bumble Bee Foods and SAP To Track Tuna Using Blockchain

From ocean to table, it hopes to provide insights for consumers and manufacturers

The transparency features of blockchain technology make it an ideal solution to provide more supply chain insights for consumers and manufacturers.

Is there Dolphin in canned tuna? Maybe, we don’t know. The sheer thought of it does not make us enjoy our tuna sandwiches though – at least for those of us who grew up watching Flipper.

It’s much more than a myth. Before 1990, more than 7 million dolphins were killed in tuna purse seine nets. Then the Dolphin Safe Tuna programs started, providing a Dolphin Safe label on Tuna Cans, which drastically cut down the number of dolphins killed each year.

That shows that the certification and labeling process works, at least to some degree. There is space for improvement. For now, consumers have to rely on the organizations behind the labels but don’t really have any way to check the validity of the label themselves. That’s where blockchain comes in.

Scan a QR code and find out the details of your tuna can

Bumble Bee Foods, a shelf-stable seafood company, is using SAP’s cloud-based blockchain platform to track the entire supply chain of yellowfin tuna from Indonesian fishing villages to grocery stores in the U.S.

Tony Costa, CIO of Bumble Bee Foods, says,

“SAP’s blockchain technology allows us to trace all tuna entering the supply chain and ensure it is legally harvested while meeting our International Seafood Sustainability Foundation sourcing commitments and the highest standard for quality assurance and food safety worldwide.”

Tuna cans will display a QR code which consumers can scan and access a blockchain-based database. They can check the origin and history of the tuna, including the size and location of the catch, the name of the fishing community, the authenticity of the catch, safety, freshness, and fair trading and sustainability certifications.

What works for tuna works for other foods as well. Blockchain-based supply chain provenance can empower consumers worldwide. Especially in the case of foods that are crucial to our health, like our daily nutrition or baby foods, we can greatly benefit from more transparency.

Besides our health, increased supply chain insights can also help tackle ethical challenges. Via blockchain, we can validate fair trade labels and learn how much coffee bean farmers in Ethiopia get paid and what their working conditions look like.

Gil Perez from SAP says,

“Consumer demand for such information and certification will trigger multiple companies to follow, and eventually the majority of the industry will adopt this as an industry standard practice. I am certain that this usage of blockchain in the enterprise will be good for the consumer, the industry, and save lives.”

Both consumers and food manufacturers can benefit from better insights

Perez points to the strengths of blockchain technology and explains that besides increased supply chain insights for consumers, blockchain also provides multiple advantages for manufacturers.

Those companies that act in an environmentally responsible manner can use blockchain technology to prove the quality of their products. As a result, they can not only improve their branding but also charge a quality premium on their products.

Being able to provide supply chain transparency also helps when applying for regulatory permits, sharing data with stakeholders, and identifying supply chain bottlenecks product issues.

“In the food industry, there are countless examples of food recalls,” says Perez.

“Having blockchain-based traceability of goods can and should help consumers, companies, and regulators act quickly and contain – and hopefully, in the future also prevent – food recalls more efficiently.”

Thus, blockchain brings food supply chain management and product labels to the next level. Instead of only seeing the label and having to trust it, consumers can dig deeper and find out details. Will they do it? Many won’t. But increased transparency will force producers to adhere to ethical and legal manufacturing methods.

Lukas Hofer

Lukas J. Hofer is a business writer and has years of experience in financial services and international business. He has a proven track record working with leading international companies and currently works as independent business consultant in Asia.

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