Supermarket shelves are barometers of consumer demand for food, and they are pointing to a sunny future for fresh foods and an uncertain outlook for processed products. In this shifting and highly competitive climate—as exemplified by Amazon's pending acquisition of Whole Foods—blockchain technology is emerging as a key enabler as the industry looks to reshape supply chains to meet customers' changing demands.
The technology—with its shared ledger and immutable data architecture and its ability to run smart contracts—is being developed and tested in three critical areas of the food supply chain:
- Sustainable agriculture.
- Supply chain transparency.
- Safety monitoring.
Such applications will increase in importance as the market for fresh foods continues to evolve. The Amazon/Whole Foods tie up is indicative of market dynamics and pressures, with the likes of Walmart (which is testing IBM blockchain technology) stepping up its fresh food offerings and specialist home delivery services gaining attention, customers and venture investment.
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