The food industry nowadays has the important
need to monitor every step relating to the production
process of what it places on the market, so as
to provide consumers who are now increasingly
attentive and aware, accurate and exact data related
to the quality of their products. Connecting
Food solves this imperative by providing an indispensable
tool for quality management.
Where did the idea for Connecting Food come from?
Prior to founding Connecting Food, Maxine and I spent 40 years working for various agri-food companies. Throughout our careers, we saw how the lack of transparency in food supply chains was impacting consumer trust, and how much damage food scandals were doing to brands. We began looking into possible solutions for resolving this trust issue, and came upon blockchain technology, which was growing at the time in the FinTech market. We realized that those same blockchain principles could be used to not only ensure the total traceability of a food product, but to also ensure that each actor along the food chain truly respected their commitments and delivered the right product to the right customer.
Why did blockchain feel like the right tool/technology for this business?
As a secure distributed ledger, it was obvious that blockchain had the potential to play a key role when it came to sharing information in a secure way. Data security is especially important in the food industry, as it is both a very competitive market, but also a highly risky one; everyone is very concerned about ensuring their privacy while obtaining food safety and food traceability. Therefore, we opted for Hyperledger Fabric, a private, permission-based blockchain. Hyperledger is known as the ‘blockchain for business’, as it enables a consortium of actors to set different levels of user-rights when it comes to sharing, writing, and reading information. This is vital for a producer for example, because if you’re selling half of your production to one client, and the other half to their competitor, you obviously don’t want all of your orders to be visible by both of your clients!
Another advantage to Hyperledger blockchains is that they do not require any mining, meaning they are much more energy efficient than public blockchains.
There is one common misconception about blockchain that we would like to address. Many people think that blockchain technology alone will be able to resolve the trust & traceability issues plaguing our industry. However, it is important to understand that blockchain simply records the information you enter in and renders it immutable – it will not in any way tell you if that information is accurate.
This is what drove us to add an additional layer of intelligence to our blockchain platform, which allows us to first validate the data’s veracity prior to recording it on the blockchain, providing the peace of mind our users needed to feel confident sharing data upstream and downstream. This process occurs via our LiveAudit® module, which is a combination of mathematic calculations and algorithms, and gives our clients the ability to verify in real-time that every single product is compliant with its product specifications.
What has been the role of sustainability in the process of setting up the business? How important is it to the model?
Sustainability is at the heart of Connecting Food, as our mission is to identify supply chain problems in real-time, limiting the risk of product recalls and food wastage. We believe that traceability is the founding principle of sustainability in the food business: knowing where your product came from and how it was made should be the basis of any sustainability roadmap.
In terms of food waste, we have a very important role to play on the industrial level, as Connecting Food identifies non-compliant batches of production in real-time. In the past, batches were often found to be non-compliant they had already been packed and/or shipped to a retailer, meaning everything had to be destroyed, regardless of what the problem was. By using the Connecting Food platform, producers and manufacturers can identify the problem earlier on in the food chain, allowing them to downgrade the product or reroute it to another food chain instead of throwing it away.
Our LiveAudit® module is also a great tool to measure and prove that the CSR commitments for a product are truly being kept. For instance, if a product is supposed to be locally sourced, organic, GMO-free, or pesticide-free, our platform can verify this by leveraging production data, therefore proving the promises of the brand.
The Connecting Food platform enables our clients to put proof of sustainability directly into the hands of the end-user, instead of just saying ‘believe me, they are sustainable’ – and this makes all the difference in today’s era where connected consumers want to be able to verify everything for themselves!