News Supply chain

Lloyds Register, IBM in UK blockchain food consortium


SecQuAL is a new 11 member UK consortium that aims to use data and blockchain to reduce food waste and improve food traceability. Lloyd’s Register leads the group, which includes IBM Food Trust, listed food company Cranswick, and the UK’s Food Standards Agency.

The publicly funded consortium’s first project will use smart labels for pork production. By attaching a digital ID to each food product, blockchain can use blockchain to track, trace and monitor it. Knowing where the food originated can help enormously in the event of food recalls. And it enables greater visibility for regulators.

But it also helps to monitor that food is stored at appropriate temperatures and predict its shelf life by knowing exactly when it was harvested and how long it has been refrigerated. For consumers, it can provide more information about how their food is sourced and potentially enable them to provide feedback.

“It is unthinkable that the assurance of our food will operate within current technological constraints in 10 years time,” said Stuart Kelly, Sales Director, Business Assurance, Lloyd’s Register. “Concerns about food safety, provenance and waste, combined with expectations of low food prices, mean that supply chains will have to become smarter and more efficient.” 

The initiative has multiple goals, the first of which is innovation and digitalisation. It wants to effectively capture and share data, while ensuring the data is secure and standards compliant. A broader goal is to consult with the entire food sector.

Some of these aims are not dissimilar to the goals of international agribusiness consortium Covantis. That consortium uses blockchain for digital transformation in the sector and is backed by the world’s largest agribusinesses. However, initially, its focus was more on efficiency improvements, particularly in international trade rather than the consumer.

“Trust, sustainability, authenticity and transparency are now the values embedded in the social contract between consumers, retailers and food producers,” said IBM’s Luq Niazi. “SecQuAL brings together the key players needed to improve trust across the full supply chain – from farm to fork.”

Through IBM Food Trust, the technology company has extensive experience in this space across a broad array of food types. It’s not the first time blockchain has been used for pig traceability. French supermarket Auchan has used the technology with traceability provider TE-FOOD. And in the U.S., collaborated with the National Pork Board.

SecQuAL was awarded funding by the UK’s Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund. Several of the other consortium members provide technology solutions to the food sector. The full list of members is Lloyd’s Register, PragmatIC Semiconductors, RSK ADAS, IBM, Advanced Material Development (AMD), BlakBear, Centre for Process Innovation (CPI), Consus Fresh Solutions, Cranswick, CCL design and the Food Standards Agency.

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