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Marrying Blockchain Tech and Sustainability: NESTLE Launches a Pilot Project

Marrying Blockchain Tech and Sustainability: NESTLE Launches a Pilot Project
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by Maria Birger

Over the past few years, many large corporations in various industries have been embracing sustainability. Recognizing its growing importance to their customers and investors, they are also using sustainability as a way to cut costs and improve competitiveness.

Sustainability issues in food and beverage

In the food and beverage sector, companies have been struggling with a variety of sustainability challenges, from poor labor practices in supply chains to the excessive use of water and pesticides. Now industry leaders like Nestle are looking to blockchain technology to help them improve sustainability of their operations. It comes as no surprise, since blockhain’s unique attributes make it a perfect fit for supply chain management challenges and help to enhance transparency, traceability, and accountability, increasing efficiency and preventing fraud.

What Nestle is doing with blockchain

Thanks to blockchain technology, Nestle will allow its customers to track products throughout its supply chains, offering them independently verifiable information and the transparency that they seek. The food and beverage giant is collaborating with OpenSC – a blockchain platform that allows consumers to track their food all the way to the farm. The pilot program will first trace milk from farms in New Zealand to the company’s factories and warehouses in the Middle East. Palm oil – one the most ubiquitous products on our supermarket shelves but also the most controversial will be traced next.

What has been done in the past

Nestle is not new to blockchain technology. The company has been using blockchain since 2017, when it joined the IBM Food Trust as a founding member. In April 2019, Nestle and Carrefour announced that they were giving consumers access to blockchain data for Mousline puree in France, creating a precedent for sharing information on products with consumers via blockchain platform. Scanning QR code on the puree packaging allows consumers to follow the product from Nestle factories to Carrefour stores. The information they see includes dates, storage times, warehouse locations, and quality control parameter. Consumers also get to know farmers who grow potatoes for the puree and how puree is made.

Mashed potatoes. Image courtesy of simplyrecipes.com

Why it is important

Organizations in a many industries are scaling up their sustainability efforts, while also jumping into the blockchain space. Going forward, we expect to see more blockchain-based sustainability initiatives from organizations seeking transparency in their supply chains, with special focus on controversial issues and products, such as palm oil for example.