IoT and blockchain sneak into your shopping cart | NTT DATA

Wed, 26 September 2018

IoT and blockchain sneak into your shopping cart

With the age of the conscious consumer in full swing, we receive a flood of information relating to food fraud. Where does the fresh food in our shopping cart come from? What are we buying? What are we eating? The answers to these questions are a great challenge for the IoT-Blockchain tandem.

We recall a recent scandal involving a network of entrepreneurs and farmers who put horse meat that was unfit for human consumption on the market. Fish and seafood also come under suspicion. Fish is one of the most commonly faked products. Indeed, verifying the origin and quality of tuna, for example, is not an easy task. 

This fish is an expensive product. Its price depends on fishing and storage conditions during the supply chain. To be considered premium, tuna must be stored at temperatures of -2.2 degrees Fahrenheit (-19 degrees Celsius) or less from the moment they are caught. Medium quality tuna, in contrast, must be stored at temperatures of at least 17.6 degrees Fahrenheit (-8 degrees Celsius). The risk of fraud occurs mainly in the last stages of the supply chain (wholesale, retail and end users) where those involved in economic transactions can be fooled and and end up paying premium prices for medium quality tuna. The challenge of certifying tuna quality is huge.

Given all this, how can we ensure that we are paying the right price for what we are buying? IoT is the answer.

Technology offers absolute traceability of a product during the various supply chain stages, ensuring stringent control of the cold chain for storage and transportation, and issuing a certification of cold chain conditions. 

The solution involves inserting a device into each specimen to measure the temperature from the time when the tuna is fished and stored in the ship’s hold. All data concerning the time and location of capture are thus recorded. Any event that interrupts the cold chain throughout the supply chain will therefore be automatically reflected. This solution will allow any agent involved in the supply chain to access information on the status of any tuna identified.

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This identification system is key in certifying the designations of origin relative to other foods, since it allows the intervention of an inspector at any time or point of the supply chain, who has certified overwriting powers. The possibility of fraud is thus reduced.

Blockchain network—the solution

The proposed solution is based on permission-based blockchain technology (distributed ledger technology or DLT). This will ensure compliance with the following principles:

  • Transparency: Distributed ledger accessible to all stakeholders (according to the operational and business needs of each node)
  • Security: Maximum levels of security and cryptography.
  • Immutability of recorded history transactions.
  • As a permission-based blockchain, it can be configured and tailored to business logic.
  • transaction certification pursuant to regulator policies.

The combination of both technologies offers undeniable reliability, which is why it stands out as a solution for tackling all the problems arising from food and designation of origin certification.


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