Yesterday Danone unveiled its Track & Connect service, a blockchain food traceability solution to provide greater transparency for its baby formula brands, including Aptamil. It has already launched in China and will be rolled out this year in France, Germany, Australia and New Zealand.
The choice of China for the launch may not just be related to market size. There have been several scandals in China around baby milk and vaccines. In 2008 six babies died from kidney stones, and 54,000 were hospitalized after large amounts of melamine were found in infant formula. In 2018 a Chinese firm sold substandard vaccines used on babies as young as three months old. And China is plagued with counterfeits.
While Danone says the solution provides transparency from farm-to-fork as well as after-sales support and services, the design points to an anti-counterfeit solution. Barcodes are easy to copy unless special technology is used, such as ScanTrust‘s.
Danone’s solution is to use two barcodes. One appears on the outside packaging. When scanned with a mobile app, it shows when the product was manufactured and its journey to the store. And another barcode is laser printed behind a tamper-resistant seal, which can be scanned after purchase. That confirms the authenticity, and if the same code has already been scanned, it will trigger an alert.
The solution sounds similar to one from SAP, and Danone is a customer of SAP (awaiting confirmation).
Eventually, Danone plans to provide additional services such as health and nutrition apps.
“Thanks to this innovation in packaging and data management, we’ll be able to offer one of the most comprehensive traceability services in the baby formula industry and connect more closely to our consumers and retailers to offer them after sales services they value,” said David Boulanger, SVP Operations, Danone Specialized Nutrition.
Danone, with 2018 revenues of €24.7 billion, aims to become certified as a B Corp – a business that balances profit and purpose.
Baby food traceability with blockchain
Several other baby food and milk producers are already using blockchain for food traceability. Nestlé and Carrefour are tracking infant formula using the IBM Food Trust blockchain. An Italian subsidiary of Kraft Heinz, Plasmon, is exploring blockchain for baby food in association with the local agriculture ministry. And TE-FOOD tracks organic infant formula for Vietnam’s largest milk company, Vinamilk.