Blockchain in Food Traceability

  • Thomas BurkeEmail author
Part of the Food Microbiology and Food Safety book series (FMFS)


Blockchain is a transformational, paradigm-shifting technology impacting multiple industries. Starting in 2009 with the creation of Bitcoin, the applications of the technology have expanded to a wide range of use cases including food traceability (Abeyratne SA, Monfared RP, Int J Res Eng Technol 5:1–10, 2016). Described briefly, a blockchain is a decentralized, distributed ledger verified through consensus of the network (The Economist, The great chain of being sure about things. 2015). Due to the relative immaturity of the technology, it is difficult to predict how and in what ways it will transform the food sector, but it is clear that Blockchain will be a key technology for improving food traceability systems (Abeyratne SA, Monfared RP, Int J Res Eng Technol 5:1–10, 2016). More broadly, Blockchain is shifting how and what data is shared throughout the food supply chain, moving from siloed, opaque data traditionally held on paper or internal, centrally controlled databases to a more open, transparent system.

Food supply chains have unique challenges which make blockchain data architectures particularly attractive, such as disparate trading partners, hyper globalized supply chains, and unequal adoption of digital technology. The intention of this chapter is to briefly introduce the concept of blockchains and delineate use cases and advantages for food traceability, not to delve into technical computer science. Many traceability-related examples are drawn from current pilots and early implementations of blockchain in the food sector, which include seafood, produce, and meat/poultry.


Blockchain Internet of things Ethereum Hyperledger Cryptology 


  1. 1.
    Abeyratne SA, Monfared RP (2016) Blockchain ready manufacturing supply chain using distributed ledger. Int J Res Eng Technol 5(9):1–10. Scholar
  2. 2.
    Alzahrani N, Bulusu N (2018) Block-supply chain: a new anti-counterfeiting supply chain using NFC and blockchain. CryBlock’18.
  3. 3.
    Bartoletti M, Pomplanu L (2017) An empirical analysis of smart contracts: platforms, applications, and design patterns. arXiv. Scholar
  4. 4.
  5. 5.
    Ethereum (2018). Accessed 27 July 2018
  6. 6.
    Glaser F (2017) Pervasive decentralisation of digital infrastructures: a framework for blockchain enabled system and use case analysis. Proceedings of the 50th Hawaii international conference on system sciences.
  7. 7.
    Francisco K, Swanson D (2018) The supply chain has no clothes: technology adoption of blockchain for supply chain transparency. Logistics 2. Scholar
  8. 8.
    Hyperledger Foundation (2017) Seafood in supply chain traceability using blockchain technology. Accessed 26 July 2018Google Scholar
  9. 9.
    Hyperledger Foundation (2017) Volume 1: introduction to Hyperledger business blockchain design philosophy and consensus. In: Hyperledger architecture. Accessed 26 July 2018Google Scholar
  10. 10.
    Lu Q, Xu X (2017) Adaptable blockchain- based systems: a case study for product traceability. IEEE Softw 34:21–27. Scholar
  11. 11.
    Michigan State University Food Fraud Institute (2017). Accessed 26 July 2018
  12. 12.
    Nakamoto S (2008) A peer-to-peer electronic cash system. In: Bitcoin. Accessed 26 July 2018Google Scholar
  13. 13.
    Pierro MD (2017) What is the blockchain? Comput Sci Eng 19:92–95. Scholar
  14. 14.
    Provenance (2016) From shore to plate: tracking tuna on the blockchain. In: Provenance. Accessed 26 July 2018
  15. 15.
    Reijers W, O’Brolcháin F, Haynes P (2016) Governance in blockchain technologies & social contract theories. Ledger 1:134–151. Scholar
  16. 16.
    Smart Label (2018). Accessed 28 July 2018
  17. 17.
    Tian F (2017) A supply chain traceability system for food safety based on HACCP, blockchain & internet of things. IEEE.
  18. 18.
    Xu X, Weber I, Stables M, Zhu L, Bosch J, Bass L, Pautasso C, Rimba P (2017) A taxonomy of blockchain-based systems for architecture design. IEEE.
  19. 19.
    Zheng Z, Xie S, Dai H, Chen X, Wang H (2017) An overview of blockchain technology: architecture, consensus, and future trends. In: 2017 IEEE 6th international congress on big data. Scholar


  1. I1.
    Gooch M, Dent B, Sylvia G, Cusack C (2017) Rollout strategy to implement interoperable traceability in the seafood industry. J Food Sci 82(S1):A45–A57. Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Global Food Traceability CenterInstitute of Food TechnologistsWashington, DCUSA

Personalised recommendations