Preprint Article Version 1 This version is not peer-reviewed

An Exploration into the Opportunities for Blockchain in the Fresh Produce Supply Chain

Version 1 : Received: 19 November 2018 / Approved: 22 November 2018 / Online: 22 November 2018 (05:19:37 CET)

How to cite: Osei, R.K.; Canavari, M.; Hingley, M. An Exploration into the Opportunities for Blockchain in the Fresh Produce Supply Chain. Preprints 2018, 2018110537 (doi: 10.20944/preprints201811.0537.v1). Osei, R.K.; Canavari, M.; Hingley, M. An Exploration into the Opportunities for Blockchain in the Fresh Produce Supply Chain. Preprints 2018, 2018110537 (doi: 10.20944/preprints201811.0537.v1).

Abstract

Blockchain is a data management innovation that allows the linkage of successive records regarding a digital entity, and to store them into a shared, decentralized, distributed and retroactively unchangeable data structure. Each bit of information related to the recorded events contains the public key of the owner, therefore, the whole record is formed by a chain of transactions with blocks of information identifying where the transaction was generated from and its current destination  (Nakamoto, 2008). Blockchain is the technology behind Bitcoin, an online currency that was first introduced in 2009. The technology makes it possible to conduct business between members within the network without relying on third parties as guarantors to prove transaction integrity, thus increasing speed and reducing cost of transaction. Moreover, the transparency posed by the technology makes it possible to trace goods and services through all stages, making the technology a unique tool that can be assimilated by, for example, the Agro-food supply chain systems. Specifically, Blockchain is being tested in a pilot project in the UK meat (Beef) industry by the FSA (Food Standards Agency) and the slaughterhouses, with IBM Blockchain platform to ensure full transparency and compliance with regulations, (Evenstad, 2018). However, the uptake of Blockchain in the fresh produce (fresh and fresh, short-life processed fruit, vegetables, salads) supply chain is lagging, in the United Kingdom, and remains untested and limited to literature, models and specific case studies in the United States of America and France. The study aims at understanding how prepared stakeholders are in adopting Blockchain for their operations. An inductive qualitative method was employed through non-structured interviews with three companies and one consumer focus group. The interviews were guided by seven (7) open-ended questions, which were unstructured. The collected data was analyzed with axial coding through constant comparative methods. Seven (7) themes were identified as factors influencing the adoption of Blockchain in the fresh produce supply chain in the UK. These are, novelty of the technology, complexity of the fresh produce supply chain in UK, level of product transformation, technological compatibility with operations, cost and value, Customer (retailer) push for adoption, and public/consumers opinion. The adaptation of Blockchain by the current fresh produce supply chain in the UK and the EU at large will come about when concerns on Novelty, and complexity of supply chain systems are fully addressed.

Subject Areas

blockchain; fresh produce; supply chain; food safety; traceability; internet of things; smart contract

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