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Arkansas food and beverage: Blockchain technology increases traceability

 July 27, 2018

On June 27th, 2018, Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson and IBM hosted the Blockchain Technology Summit in Little Rock. The summit gathered blockchain technology leaders as well as those in agriculture, technology, education and other fields to create a blockchain initiative known as BC4AR (Blockchain for Arkansas). Governor Hutchinson said that this state initiative has the potential to “improve the delivery of goods and services in a full range of industries, especially the food industry.” This new technology would revolutionize the way businesses and distributors function across the state and the nation.

What exactly is blockchain technology? Many people have heard of blockchain but do not fully grasp what the concept is and how it effectively works. According to Investopedia, blockchain is “a digitized, decentralized, public ledger” that can be used to track economic exchanges between parties. This technology is proven to be a safe and trustworthy way of doing business. It is often associated with cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin or Ethereum. However, blockchain can be used for a wide variety of tasks in almost every industry.

Companies in Arkansas are exploring the benefits of using blockchain for food and beverage traceability. At the BC4AR conference, representatives from large Arkansas-based corporations like Tyson, Walmart and Riceland Foods attended to explore the opportunities blockchain can offer their businesses. These large companies are interested in using the technology to reduce food waste and create a traceable system for greater transparency and safety for customers.

The food industry has long needed a system that can effectively protect and inform both consumers and producers. With blockchain technology, people can have access to instantaneously updated information that can accurately inform consumers on food recalls. Customers can also verify other information, ensuring the food is properly labelled as organic, non-GMO, etc. 

In terms of food and beverage industry trends, Arkansas has a history of leading supply chain technologies, and the state is proving no different in regard to blockchain. Grass Roots Farmers’ Cooperative, a livestock co-op based in Clinton, Arkansas, began testing product tracking using blockchain in 2017, putting the state at the forefront of implementing this technology.

Blockchain is taking a noticeable position among all the technologies that can revolutionize trade and create a better economic environment for Arkansas. Through the initiatives taken by the state and corporations, an improved system of transparency and efficiency can be employed.

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