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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2022

The Potential of Blockchain Technology in the Transition towards Sustainable Food Systems

Wünsche, Julia Francesca; Fernqvist, Fredrik

Abstract

Food systems are both contributing to and affected by environmental degradation and climate change. The transition towards resilient and sustainable food systems is essential to ensure food security and minimise negative environmental impacts. Innovative technologies can accelerate this transition. Blockchain technology (BCT) is attracting attention as it can deliver transparency to complex global food supply chains and has the potential to guide current food production towards better sustainability and efficiency. This case study investigated the opportunities that BCT can offer to food supply chains. Qualitative interviews with eight main BCT providers were conducted to evaluate the current state of BCT and put it into perspective by mapping out advantages, disadvantages, incentives, motives, and expectations connected to its implementation in global food systems. A thematic analysis showed that, while BCT was considered beneficial by all interviewees, uptake is slow due to high implementation costs and the lack of incentives for companies throughout the food chain from farms to food industry and retail. Results further revealed that the advantages of BCT go beyond communication of trustworthy information and development of closer producer–consumer relationships. In fact, it can provide the opportunity to decrease food waste, enhance working conditions throughout the supply chain, and promote sustainable consumption habits. As BCT may be increasingly used in the food supply chain, the results give a basis for future research that may leverage both qualitative and quantitative methods to examine actors’ behaviours. Also, the importance of improving user experiences through functional applications and software to facilitate the adoption of the technology is stressed. 

Keywords

blockchain; sustainability; food systems; food supply chains; transparency; agri-food; traceability

Published in

Sustainability
2022, volume: 14, number: 13, article number: 7739

Authors' information

Wünsche, Julia Francesca
No organisation
Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of People and Society

Associated SLU-program

Food Waste

Sustainable Development Goals

SDG2 Zero hunger
SDG9 Build resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialization and foster innovation

UKÄ Subject classification

Environmental Management
Social Sciences Interdisciplinary

Publication Identifiers

DOI: https://doi.org/10.3390/su14137739

URI (permanent link to this page)

https://res.slu.se/id/publ/118213