In the global pursuit of safer and more transparent food supply chains, blockchain technology has emerged as a promising solution as we have previously discussed. However, the United States appears to be trailing Europe in the adoption of this transformative technology. This delves into the reasons behind the sluggish acceptance of blockchain in the US food industry and offers recommendations for more widespread implementation.
Obstacles to Adoption in the US
According to an article published on Food Engineering by Wayne Labs, here are the general challenges hindering the widespread integration of blockchain technology in the US food industry:
❌Complex Supply Chains Pose Challenges
The intricate nature of food and beverage supply chains in the US has been a significant impediment to the widespread integration of blockchain technology. Food companies deal with a web of stakeholders and data sources scattered across various systems. These complexities make it challenging to effectively capture, register, and transmit the necessary information into a blockchain network. Citing the insights of Francine L. Shaw, a co-founder of My Food Source, the data required for blockchain integration is often fragmented, making seamless implementation an uphill battle.
❌Limited Awareness and Understanding
Another obstacle to blockchain adoption lies in the limited awareness and understanding of the technology’s significance among key stakeholders in the US food industry. Many companies, despite recognizing the advantages of blockchain, such as enhanced traceability and fraud prevention, struggle to fully grasp its functionality. Without comprehensive training and guidance on data entry and transmission, the adoption process remains slow.
The European Advantage
Based on the same article, Europe stands out in this aspect compared to its US counterparts due to the following:
✅Compliance with Legal and Ethical Standards
Europe has demonstrated an advantageous position in the blockchain adoption race. New European legal and ethical requirements, such as compliance with the EC Corporate Sustainability Due Diligence rules, the Digital Product Passport (DPP), and the EC Ecodesign for Sustainable Products Regulation, have propelled blockchain adoption. Companies like UNISOT in Norway are offering solutions that cater to these evolving standards. Their blockchain technology, powered by nChain, aligns with European regulations, reinforcing transparency and sustainability in supply chains.
✅Proven Success Stories
Furthermore, Europe has witnessed early success stories in blockchain implementation, which have generated momentum in the region. These achievements are typified by companies like Bühler, which have partnered with startups to develop blockchain solutions for tracking ingredients in the food industry. Such initiatives aim to enhance supply chain transparency, allowing companies to respond swiftly to product recalls or contamination.
Prominent Players in the US
While the adoption of blockchain technology has been gradual in the US, there are notable companies making strides. According to the study made by Scott Haskell, PhD, of Michigan State University, the following companies are at the forefront of this endeavor:
- Bumble Bee Foods
- Tyson Foods
The said companies have either integrated blockchain into their operations or are currently testing its viability in various capacities. This demonstrates that there is interest and belief in the potential benefits of blockchain technology within the US food industry.
Operational Discipline and Immutability
Blockchain’s immutable nature, while a significant advantage, demands operational discipline that some companies may find daunting. Companies need to ensure that data is entered accurately the first time, as incorrect data entries are irreversible and can erode trust.
Blockchain’s model is unforgiving in this regard. This operational hurdle poses a challenge, but it is also an essential aspect of blockchain’s integrity.
In light of the current state of blockchain adoption in the US food industry, it is evident that challenges and complexities have contributed to the slower pace compared to Europe. To bridge this gap, the US food industry must invest in comprehensive education and training programs to increase awareness and understanding of blockchain’s advantages. Additionally, companies should focus on streamlining their supply chain operations and improving data collection and registration processes.
By embracing blockchain technology, the industry can not only enhance transparency and traceability but also restore consumer trust and confidence. The US food industry can find inspiration in European success stories and strive for a more secure and transparent future.