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Organic uses Blockchain technology to take supply chain transparency further this Organic September

Organic uses Blockchain technology to take supply chain transparency further this Organic September

Organic uses Blockchain technology to take supply chain transparency further this Organic September

This Organic September, Soil Association Certification has teamed up with start-up tech firm Provenance to pilot technology which tracks the journey of organic food from farm to shop shelf.  From 6 September, shoppers will be able to tap their smartphones on packets of Eversfield Organics bacon on sale in select As Nature Intended stores, and instantly retrieve the product’s complete supply chain journey.


The pilot uses Near Field Communications (NFC) technology, the same as is used to tap public transit passes like the Oyster card. This means the information of a product’s journey and exactly what it means to be certified organic is now instantaneously accessible to shoppers with NFC-enabled smart phones, no app required. With NFC available both on product packaging and on the shop shelf, together with barcode and QR code, blockchain technology is now showcasing what Soil Association Certification does at each step of the organic certification process in an interactive way.


With organic certification already the only legally required, fully inspected and audited certification, blockchain technology is bringing the story of what certification means to the point of sale. Linking Provenance’s blockchain design with Soil Association Certification’s databases, a product’s journey enters the blockchain in real-time. Shoppers are able to see information including the certification’s validity, the organic criteria met by the product, a map of its journey, and even photographs from the farm.


Jessi Baker, CEO and Founder of Provenance, says: “We're excited to be working with Soil Association Certification to create the world’s first digital certification mark, with key verified data and batches of product stored on the blockchain. Provenance exists to help us all be able to shop with confidence knowing we are buying authentic food that matches our values. Our tech brings an easy, secure and trustworthy digital dimension to our food and drinks. When you look for products certified by the Soil Association, you know you are looking at a mark to trust and that the food meets the highest standards, now and in the future.”


This pilot between Soil Association Certification and Provenance is a first for certification programmes in the United Kingdom. It builds on the findings from research carried out by Soil Association Certification that identified trust and transparency in supply chains as fundamental to future food shopping for consumers [1]. In the UK, shoppers are making their voices around the issue of food transparency increasingly heard, with 70% of respondents in a recent Morrison’s survey objecting to fake farm labels and eight out of ten respondents to a QA Research study expressing their desire to know which farm system has been used to produce their meat and dairy products [3].  


Clare McDermott, Business Development Director at Soil Association Certification says:

“We’re delighted to pioneer this technology in the UK for food as it should be. Today’s shoppers are not just more conscious of their health and wellbeing, but of how to get information that tells them that what they’re buying supports these values. Consumer mistrust of supply chains is a key issue to address in today’s food retail, so we’re thrilled to see blockchain technology working with organic supply chains to give consumers full transparency when they see the Soil Association organic symbol. Customers who interact with the digital mark can find out more about what it means to be organic, something we know has been confusing in the past. This makes it even easier for consumers to make informed decisions about what food systems and businesses they support, setting the precedent for the future of food.


Jeff Martin, Managing Director of As Nature Intended, says: “We are proud to be part of this project collaborating with the Soil Association and Provenance as we believe customers deserve to have more and more confidence in their local shops. Enabling shoppers to easily access more info on the famers-to-shelves chain can only be beneficial for building trust and forming a long-term relationship based on the same values.”


The Provenance initiative is helping Soil Association Certification launch its organic symbol into the digital age as part of Organic September. Soil Association Certified organic always means fewer pesticides, no artificial colours & preservatives, always Free Range, no routine use of antibiotics, and no GM ingredients. The pilot of Eversfield Organics Roam & Relish bacon will continue until supplies of the specially tagged products run out. Following these initial trials, Soil Association Certification plans to continue exploring batch tracking and to promote the new interactive digital certification to brands and retailers, to significantly extend the organic certification symbol reach to businesses and shoppers alike