The University of Wyoming has developed a blockchain system that could transform food shipping and tracking across the globe.
The blockchain code was developed by Kip DeCastro, a Computer Science major at UW, in collaboration with Philip Schlump of the Wyoming-based company BeefChain. The code was used to track the shipment of Wyoming beef to Taiwan in December 2018.
Shipment-tracking systems are already in wide use by companies like UPS, but they are outdated and subject to failure and fraud. However, UPS obtained a patent for a blockchain tracking system in August 2018 to curb these problems.
Philip Schlump’s Beefchain helps the state’s ranchers add value to their beef products by showing evidence of being free range and fairly farmed, while providing assurance of product safety.
The BeefChain CEO said the beef was the first shipment tracked from the U.S. to Asia on blockchain. He expressed his gratitude to the University of Wyoming for being an integral part of making the shipment a success. He said that the work was the result of joint efforts between the Department of Computer Science and the Colleges of Agriculture & Natural Resources and Business.
The trial beef was sourced from the Murraymere farms in Powell, Wyoming. It was tagged with radio frequency identification (RFID) labels and delivered to a five-star dining outfit in Taipei, Taiwan. The labels were linked to a specific digital identifier, which made it possible for the beef to be tracked through the supply chain, from the processing plant to exporter, importer and the restaurant.
Using RFID tags in blockchain tracking will ensure secure end-to-end supply chain documentation to effectively guarantee product quality, including the properties of beef like free-range, grass-fed, and premium grade.
The University of Wyoming credits the Department of Computer Science with the impressive feat, as well as the contributions made by BeefChain, the Wyoming Business Council, and the company that provided the RFID labels, Avery Dennison, a global firm specializing in adhesive technologies and packaging materials.
Francisco Melo, Vice President and General Manager of Avery Dennison, asserted that RFID is paving the way for blockchain integration in the food industry. He called it an opportunity for farmers and businesses to guarantee the origin of their products, thus improving food safety, refined consumer experiences, and product differentiation.
Jennings of BeefChain said that partnering with Avery Dennison on this initial shipment of Wyoming beef was key, because Avery’s RFID labels made it easier for them to follow the product along the entire supply chain while recording the necessary data in their digital ledger.
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