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Blockchain technology tracing food source to reduce food poisoning

New York based Inscatech is a global food quality "spy" and police of some sort. It helps big groceries find violations. Its latest efforts to use Blockchain is reported in this news.


May 14, 2020 at 3:39:45 AM

New York based company Inscatech has been founded in 2009 as a global food spy. Its clients are the biggest groceries in need of protecting their reputations by letting the suppliers know that there is someone watching over the food quality in clandestine fashion.
In demand by multinational retailers and food producers, Inscatech ( and its agents scour supply chains around the world hunting for evidence of food industry fraud and malpractice. In the years since he founded the New York-based firm in 2009, Weinberg says China continues to be a key growth area for fraudsters as well as those developing technologies trying to counter them.
Weinberg’s company is developing molecular markers and genetic fingerprints to help authenticate natural products and sort genuine foodstuffs from the fakes. Another approach companies are pursuing uses digital technology to track and record the provenance of food from farm to plate.
While the attempts to trace food source has been going on for the past decade, including such technologies as IoT or radio RFID tag, this is the continued efforts to find food poisoning.
“Consumers want to know where products are from,” said Shaun Rein, managing director of China Market Research Group, citing surveys the Shanghai-based consultancy conducted with consumers and supermarket operators.
Wal-Mart Stores Inc., the world’s largest retailer, was one of the first to get on board, just completing a trial using blockchain technology to track pork in China, where it has more than 400 stores. The time taken to track the meat’s supply chain was cut from 26 hours to just seconds using blockchain, and the scope of the project is being widened to other products, said Frank Yiannas, Wal-Mart’s vice president for food safety, in an interview.

Shanghai-based Zhong An Information and Technology Services Co. said in June, 2017, that it will use the technology to track chickens from the coop to the processing facility and on to the market or store.
“Food fraud is a serious global issue,” said Maggie Zhou, managing director for Alibaba in Australia and New Zealand. “This project is the first step in creating a globally respected framework that protects the reputation of food merchants and gives consumers further confidence to purchase food online.”

Veteran VC Analysis:
While this is a big problem, solving it may not be the highest priority because the rate of occurrence is low. The technology faces many challenges. Two of the most important ones include: (1) whether the network of supply supply and local administrations would accept them; (2) whether it can prevent copy cats from taking over their business.
The company is doing a good job being a service company now. If it goes to become a technology, it has the chance to go IPO, but it would also become the target of copying and may lose its livelihood.
While companies like Walmart and Alibaba are supportive and onboard, there is no point in believing that these companies would collaborate or pay. Alibaba can develop block-chain programming and devices in a heart beat, whereas Walmart will shop for the lowest price supplier no doubt.

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