Supply chain transparency and blockchain. If this story is right, it’s highly significant…

The story I’m talking about is this one:

Chinese insurer ZhongAn plans blockchain chicken coup

Poultry-tracking ledger technology can improve country’s food safety, says chief

From the Financial Times today. In case you can’t read it (the curse of paywalls, media in search of a business model) here’s what it says, in quotes:

“An insurance company in China is looking to shake up the country’s chicken supply chain — using blockchain technology.”

” The company uses tracking devices and facial recognition technology to follow the movement of free-range chickens, from hatching to packaging, on hundreds of farms across China. Poultry are fitted with tracking devices on their legs and the data are logged using a blockchain ledger”

“Customers can download an application on to their smartphones that allows them to track a chicken’s route to the supermarket, and provides access to the bird’s life history along with charts showing its level of activity.”

This seems highly significant. IF this technology can be made to pay off (and it relies on consumer choices at point of purchase and consumers being aware/interested enough, which is a whole other debate) at scale and at the right cost, it shows us just what technology and the blockchain may mean for transparency in supply chains.

Of course it throw up more questions that it answers, namely:

1) What kind of tracking devices?

2) How much do they cost, including use and removal?

3) Is there REALLY a demand for this, in China or anywhere else?

4) How will a producer, processor, trader, or retail brand make money from this, sustainably?

5) Linked to the above, how will a consumer engage with this, why would they care, en masse, and how might it influence purchasing, particularly if a premium product (so there’s the scale issue)

But if these kinds of developments are more than hype, or the FT trying to crowbar a blockchain reference into articles in the hope that dumb bloggers (oops) fall for it and re-post links, this surely could be significant.

Answers on a blockchain-based postcard, so I know it’s not a bot writing to me. And now, wait, once I publish this, for all the Linkedin blockchain experts to leap on this and tell me how dumb/uninformed/gullible I am, or how revolutionary the technology will be in 2-3-4-5 years time…

In the meantime, we’re getting on with this kind of thing in supply chains: