Supply Chain Fraud and Food Insecurity Tackled by Blockchain

This is the fourth installment of a series that explores the history, technology, and partnerships of Envisible. Envisible is a sustainable food procurement firm that aims to make supply chains more transparent. Parts one, two, and three are available.

Envisible, a supply company, uses blockchain technology to track and detect its products from sea to store. It also helps to combat fraud in the seafood industry.

Blockchain, also known as distributed ledger tech, allows anyone in a network to have access to the same data set. It is impossible to change a data entry once it has been added to the blockchain ledger. Because the data is shared, all members of the blockchain network can hold each other accountable.

Jayson Berryhill, the co-founder of Envisible, tells Food Tank that blockchain is ideal for supply chains as it can connect companies in otherwise decentralized supply networks.

Berryhill explained that the basic idea is that companies cannot lie about their products if more data is added to the blockchain ledger.

Berryhill tells Food Tank that an immutable record of all claims at a given time creates a disincentive to fraud. "If you commit fraudulent behavior in a supply chain, you won't be able to enter it into an immutable leadger."

This is why blockchain and Wholechain's various technologies are optimized to generate, record, and verify massive amounts of data from all parties in the supply chain. To ensure honesty and create a supply chain that consumers can trust, more data is needed.

Berryhill and Mark Kaplan, his co-founders, decided to start Envisible. They realized that blockchain was the best technology for food supply chain transparency. It could also be used across industries. Berryhill and Kaplan created Wholechain to house a variety of traceability technologies.

Wholechain has Envisible as one of its customers. Estee Lauder, a technology company, also collaborates with Wholechain to track vanilla used in Aveda's fragrances.

Wholechain's backbone is the blockchain platform, which was developed by Mastercard. Mastercard's financial expertise has allowed its technology to offer capabilities other blockchains lack, including anti-fraud protections when processing digital payments.

Berryhill tells Food Tank that the platform was also designed with supply chains in view. It is designed to collect huge amounts of data from every company in the chain and create a unique code-protected record that will protect the data from hackers.

Wholechain's platform records information about each Envisible seafood product, including catch date, vessel identification, and species, catch coordinates, and method of fishing.

Wholechain partners with Best Aquaculture Practices (BAP), a certification body that provides real-time data on seafood producers in accordance with BAP's requirements. Producers are subject to an annual audit and must report quarterly. Berryhill says that real-time data gives a better picture of a company's activities and makes it harder for fraudsters to hide.

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Wholechain has partnered with an Asian shrimp farm to pilot satellite monitoring in order to reduce fraud. Berryhill says it is not unusual for certified farms to buy shrimp from other producers, and then sell the additional product for more under the BAP certificate. Wholechain monitors the operation of a farm via satellite and can verify that the products it sells were actually made there.

Kaplan and Berryhill want Wholechain's traceability technology for food insecurity to give consumers more confidence in supply chains.

Wholechain is collaborating with the U.S. Wholechain is collaborating with U.S. Hunger to integrate its tracking capabilities and the organization's food security mapping. The two organizations aim to find suppliers who have surplus food and direct it to those in greatest need.

Wholechain partners with Feed Forward, a nonprofit that takes some of the surplus meat and prepares meals for U.S. Hunger's food delivery service, Full Cart.

Kaplan told Food Tank that "we can level the entire network of the traceable supply chain, and connect the availability to food with the demand for food."

Berryhill also said that Wholechain's technology could be used to reduce food waste. ReFED, a nonprofit that fights food waste estimates that 8 million tons of food are lost each year due to confusion about food date labels.

Wholechain, which uses sensors to track temperature data as food moves through the supply chain can be used to ensure that food lasts longer than current label estimates. Berryhill told Food Tank. Berryhill states that accurate labels can assure consumers that the product isn't spoilt and reduce waste.