ArticlePDF Available

Blockchain: case studies in food supply chain visibility

Authors:

Abstract and Figures

Purpose This paper aims to investigate how blockchain has moved beyond cryptocurrencies and is being deployed to enhance visibility and trust in supply chains, their limitations and potential impact. Design/methodology/approach Qualitative analysis are undertaken via case studies drawn from food companies using semi-structured interviews. Findings Blockchain is demonstrated as an enabler of visibility in supply chains. Applications at scale are most likely for products where the end consumer is prepared to pay the premium currently required to fund the technology, e.g. baby food. Challenges remain in four areas: trust of the technology, human error and fraud at the boundaries, governance, consumer data access and willingness to pay. Research limitations/implications The paper shows that blockchain can be utilised as part of a system generating visibility and trust in supply chains. Research directs academic attention to issues that remain to be addressed. The challenges pertaining to the technology itself we believe to be generalisable; those specific to the food industry may not hold elsewhere. Practical implications From live case studies, we provide empirical evidence that blockchain provides visibility of exchanges and reliable data in fully digitised supply chains. This provides provenance and guards against counterfeit goods. However, firms will need to work to gain consumer buy-in for the technology following repeated past claims of trustworthiness. Originality/value This paper provides primary evidence from blockchain use cases “in the wild”. The exploratory case studies examine application of blockchain for supply chain visibility.
Content may be subject to copyright.
A preview of the PDF is not available
... In a similar fashion, the increased transparency and availability of information across the end-to-end supply chain also promotes consumers' and the public's cognition-based trust in the supply chain unit (e.g., Hasan et al., 2020;Rogerson & Parry, 2020). For example, blockchain can help inform consumers regarding the origin of products' components and the production process of the finished products in the fishery supply chain, which consequently helps solve the trust crisis issue in fish consumption which mainly stems from a deficiency of information (Probst, 2020). ...
... (1) For trust in the operating system, blockchain integration can promote users' cognitive trust through the enhancement of data integrity and authenticity (Cha et al., 2020;Juma et al., 2019) (2) For supply chain partners, blockchain adoption can reinforce cognition-based trust through the encouragement of credible information sharing and the visibility of real-time updated information (e.g., Liu et al., 2021;Wan et al., 2020) (3) For the trust of consumers/public in a supply chain unit, blockchain implementation can strengthen the cognition-based trust in the supply chain through the authenticity and transparency of information regarding various activities end-to-end across the supply chain (e.g., Rogerson & Parry, 2020;Yong et al., 2020) Table 5 ...
Article
Full-text available
This paper aims to investigate the impact of blockchain application on trust levels in supply chains. Through the systematic review of the relevant literature, three dimensions of trust, i.e., the trustor–trustee perspective, forms of trust, and time orientation, are investigated. Our findings show that, first, there are three pairs of trustors and trustees involved in blockchain implementation: (a) the user and the blockchain, (b) two supply chain partners, and (c) the consumer/public and a supply chain unit. Second, the two forms of trust, namely cognition-based and institution-based trust, are likely to be enhanced by blockchain execution, while affect-based trust may not be directly impacted by the technology. Third, the presence of blockchain technology would facilitate swift trust-building between unknown supply chain partners under specific circumstances. Moreover, we also find contradicting assertions among scholars on the implications of blockchain for trust in supply chains. While some studies pointed out that blockchain will enable a trustless trusted scheme, others expected the reinforcement of interorganizational trust. To test these assertions, we develop the blockchain-entrusted supply chain models to present the three-step process of how trust is developed through the blockchain and diffused to supply chain partners and external stakeholders.
... There are many potential benefits to use blockchain in food supply chains, such as guaranteeing the original information of food (Antonucci and Pallottino, 2019). Blockchain also enhances visibility in food supply chains (Rogerson and Parry, 2020;Casino et al., 2021). 11 [Access online] https://shippingwatch.com/carriers/Container/article10602520.ece ...
Article
During the COVID-19 pandemic, blockchain has been widely used to trace imported fresh food information from sources to destinations. Motivated by observations of real-world practice, we studied the role that blockchain played in imported fresh food supply chains. We first developed the basic models to examine the cases without and with blockchain. We derived the optimal pricing decisions for the supply chain and the conditions under which using blockchain was profitable under each model. To assess the robustness of the results, we then analyzed how risk attitudes affected the optimal supply chain decisions. We found some interesting results: When the effect of assuaging consumers’ safety concerns brought by blockchain was not obvious, blockchain was more likely to help the manufacturer and retailer increase their profits; otherwise, the value of blockchain was not significant. Besides, the risk-averse manufacturer and retailer would decrease their prices in response to the risks of demand fluctuations. Also, the blockchain platform would benefit from the risk-averse manufacturer and retailer but suffer from risk-averse consumers.
... Tan et al. [30] proposed a blockchain-based traceability framework that had been tested and verified in the real-life halal food supply chain. Rogerson and Parry [31] believed that blockchain adoption in a food supply chain can increase consumer trust and heighten visibility. Qian et al. [32] and Stranieri et al. [33] dissected the application, advantages, and future challenges of blockchain in food traceability. ...
Article
Full-text available
Aiming to explore whether governments should choose anti-pandemic or subsidy strategies in the post-pandemic era, this study constructed a three-level food supply chain that was composed of a leading third-party logistics provider, a supplier and a retailer, in which the third-party logistics provider used blockchain technology for food traceability to address consumer concerns about food safety. We then used game theory to analyze the pricing decisions, traceability levels, anti-pandemic effort levels and subsidy levels of the supply chain under different governmental anti-pandemic or subsidy strategies. Our results showed that in all scenarios, the higher the consumer preference for traceability information, the larger the traceability levels and anti-pandemic effort levels and the more favorable the outcome for all parties; thus, governments should improve consumer awareness of pandemic prevention. For the benefit of all parties, governments should adopt anti-pandemic and subsidy strategies simultaneously, even in the post-pandemic era. Interestingly, for the scenario in which governments could only adopt one strategy, when the cost coefficient of traceability was small, the governmental subsidies would actually lead to lower traceability levels of the 3PL. This study could provide decision-making references for governments during the post-pandemic era and a new possibility for blockchain application.
... Building on these case studies, which were led by industry leaders such as Walmart, Maersk, and Alibaba [110], one cohort of studies focused on inductive reasoning. They discussed BC applications, practices, challenges, opportunities, and barriers for general SCM [109][110][111], the food supply chain [112,113], and the circular economy [8]. Another cohort of studies developed models for investigating BC and identifying enablers, challenges, and barriers for adopting BC in SCM (Table S6). ...
Article
Full-text available
The rise of artificial intelligence (AI), blockchain (BC), and the internet of things (IoT) has had significant applications in the advancement of sustainability research. This review examines how these digital transformations drive natural and human systems, as well as which industry sectors have been applying them to advance sustainability. We adopted qualitative research methods, including a bibliometric analysis, in which we screened 960 publications to identify the leading sectors that apply AI/BC/IoT, and a content analysis to identify how each sector uses AI/BC/IoT to advance sustainability. We identified “smart city”, “energy system”, and “supply chain” as key leading sectors. Of these technologies, IoT received the most real-world applications in the “smart city” sector under the dimensions of “smart environment” and “smart mobility” and provided applications resolving energy consumption in the “energy system” sector. AI effectively resolved scheduling, prediction, and monitoring for both the “smart city” and “energy system” sectors. BC remained highly theoretical for “supply chain”, with limited applications. The technological integration of AI and IoT is a research trend for the “smart city” and “energy system” sectors, while BC and IoT is proposed for the “supply chain”. We observed a surge in AI/BC/IoT sustainability research since 2016 and a new research trend—technological integration—since 2020. Collectively, six of the United Nation’s seventeen sustainable development goals (i.e., 6, 7, 9, 11, 12, 13) have been the most widely involved with these technologies.
... SC scholars have been generally interested in knowing what drives DLTs adoption for SCM [64], the role of stakeholders' influence [65], costs, incentives, trade-offs, implementation complexity [4], [13], trust, governance, customer's IP rights, willingness to pay problems [66]. Conversely, computer scientists keep developing DLTs to improve purchasing mechanisms [67] , decentralize and scale-up their access and management [68], [69], enable trust-less trading [11], [70], better data processing and generation [71], and so on. ...
Article
Full-text available
The growth of the enterprise blockchain research supporting supply chain management calls for investigations of their impact and mindfulness of their design, use cases, and pilots. With a blockchain design for the Proof of Delivery (PoD) process management, this paper contributes to learning about performance measurement and the transaction costs implications during the development and application of smart contracts. An experimental design science approach is applied to develop an open-source blockchain to explore ways to make the delivery processes more efficient, the proof of delivery more reliable, and the performance measurements more accurate. The theory of Transaction Costs is applied to evaluate the cost implications of the adoption of smart contracts in the management of the PoD. The findings show that smart contracts make the delivery processes more efficient and proof of delivery more reliable. Yet, the methods and metrics are too complex and qualitative, limiting the smart contract's capability to measure performance. Our findings indicate potential transaction costs reduction by implementing a blockchain-based performance measurement. The complexities of the delivery process and proof of delivery call for pre-contractual steps to identify the processes and performance metrics to design blockchains. Smart contracts need further development and digital aids to handle qualitative inspections and proof of delivery generation during the delivery process. The blockchain requires the system's capacity to record off-chain transactions, such as in case of disputes resolutions. The authors extended blockchain research beyond the theoretical level, designing an open-source blockchain for supply chain management within the use case, pilot design, and case study.
Article
Purpose Traceability of food is of paramount importance to the increasingly sustainability-conscious consumers. Several tracking and tracing systems have been developed in the AgriFood sector in order to prove to the consumers the origins and processing of food products. Critical challenges in realizing food's traceability include cooperating with multiple actors on common data sharing standards and data models. Design/methodology/approach This research applies a design science approach to showcase traceability that includes preharvest activities and conditions in a case study. The authors demonstrate how existing data sharing standards can be applied in combination with new data models suitable for capturing transparency information about plant production. Findings Together with existing studies on farm-to-fork transparency, our results demonstrate how to realize transparency from field to fork and enable producers to show a complete bill of sustainability. Originality/value The existing standards and data models address transparency challenges in AgriFood chains from the moment of harvest up to retail (farm-to-fork) relatively well, but not what happens before harvest. In order to address sustainability concerns, there is a need to collect data about production activities related to product quality and sustainability before harvesting and share it downstream the supply chain. The ability to gather data on sustainability practices such as reducing pesticide, herbicide, fertilizer and water use are crucial requirements for producers to market their produce as quality and sustainable products.
Article
Sustainability issues have driven many industries to close the loop in their supply chains (SCs), evolving into a more complex process, with many risks due to the circular or multi-circular structure with several reverse flows of goods/parts/materials. Moreover, the levels of integration between partners and the levels of digitalisation in Closed Loop Supply Chains (CLSCs) are still low, yet the benefits for society are vitally relevant. Enabling technologies under the Industry 4.0 umbrella have demonstrated their positive impacts mainly on the manufacturing level, while a few researchers have investigated their effects at the SC level. To the best of our knowledge, this study is the first to concentrate its attention on the analysis of the benefits that enabling Industry 4.0 technologies can provide in terms of mitigating the risks in CLSCs, with a specific focus on the operational risks. Through two systematic literature reviews, this paper identifies the main operational risks connected with CLSCs activities and describes the impact of Industry 4.0 technologies on mitigating identified risks. A conceptual framework and a new cross-sectional matrix are proposed to summarise the reviews and to support future managerial initiatives in the CLSCs domain. Finally, the paper concludes by identifying some open research opportunities.
Article
Online trade-in programs provide efficient and convenient buyback services. However, they suffer from a trust deficit because of potential cheating by service providers (platforms). In this study, we design a blockchain-enabled system in which platforms tend to avoid cheating. The system employs an updated operation process to ensure reliable information inputs, a consortium blockchain network to avoid data tampering, and an intelligent algorithm embedded in a smart contract to automatically detect cheats. We then theoretically analyze the behavior of participants in the proposed system. In particular, we model the cheating decisions of a platform as chance-constrained programming and develop a Monte Carlo simulation method based on exploited optimality properties to solve it. Numerical experiments with real-world data demonstrate that the system reduces platforms’ motivation to cheat to an acceptable level. We draw managerial and policy implications to improve system performance.
Article
Full-text available
This paper examines the use of the Internet of Things (IoT) in the Food Supply Chain (FSC) and identifies the strengths and weaknesses of this system. Since this paper is a review study, the papers published from 2014 to June 2021 have been studied and 93 articles related to the field of IoT applications in the FSC have been reviewed. By reviewing the literature, six basic applications obtained for this type of network include transportation procurement, food production, resource/waste management, food safety improvement, food quality maintenance, and FSC transparency. Clustering is used to achieve these. Cluster analysis suggests that researchers should pay more attention to IoT applications for product quality and transparency throughout the supply chain, and consider IT-based systems seamlessly at each level of the supply chain. Cluster analysis suggests that researchers should pay more attention to IoT applications for product quality and transparency throughout the supply chain, and consider IT-based systems seamlessly at each level of the supply chain.
Article
Full-text available
The potential of blockchain has been extensively discussed in practitioner literature, yet rigorous empirical and theory-driven information systems (IS) research on blockchain remains scarce. This special issue addresses the need for innovative research that offers a fresh look at the opportunities and challenges of blockchain. This editorial integrates and goes beyond the papers included in this special issue by providing a framework for blockchain research in IS that emphasizes two important issues. First, we direct the attention of IS research toward the blockchain protocol level, which is characterized by recursive interactions between human agents and the blockchain protocol. Second, we highlight the need for IS research to consider how the protocol level constrains and affords blockchain applications, and how these constraints and other concerns at the application level lead to changes at the protocol level. Rooted in a socio-material view of IS, we offer a multi-paradigmatic IS research agenda that underscores the need for behavioral (individual, group, and organizational), design science, and IS economics research on blockchain. Our research agenda emphasizes issues of blockchain governance, human and material agency, blockchain affordances and constraints, as well as the consequences of its use.
Article
Full-text available
We develop a perspective of IT innovation in the public sector as a process that involves three complementary areas of ideology and concomitant dispute: first, the widespread view of e‐government as a transformative force that leads to major improvements of public sector functions for the benefit of society at large; second, ideologies concerning the substantive policies enacted by public sector organizations; and third, ideology regarding public sector modernization. Our research examines how the objectives of IT projects and their actual effects in government are influenced by such ideologies and contestations that surround them. We develop our theoretical contribution with a critical discourse analysis that traces the ideological underpinnings of two consecutive IT projects for the administration of international trade in Mexico. This analysis associates the objectives of the IT projects with the emergence and ensuing contestation in Mexican politics of two ideologies: the first ideology concerns free international trade as imperative for economic development; the second ideology concerns public sector modernization that sought to overcome historically formed dysfunctionalities of public administration bureaucracies by adopting management practices from the private sector. The analysis then identifies the effects of the ideologically shaped IT projects on two key values of public administration: efficiency and legality. The insights of this research on the role of ideology in IT innovation complement organizational perspectives of e‐government; socio‐cognitive perspectives that focus on ideas and meaning, such as technology frames and organizing visions; and perspectives that focus on politics in IT innovation.
Article
Though there is a wide acceptance of the strategic importance of integrating operations with suppliers and customers in supply chains, many questions remain unanswered about how best to characterize supply chain strategies. Is it more important to link with suppliers, customers, or both? Similarly, we know little about the connections between supplier and customer integration and improved operations performance. This paper investigated supplier and customer integration strategies in a global sample of 322 manufacturers. Scales were developed for measuring supply chain integration and five different strategies were identified in the sample. Each of these strategies is characterized by a different “arc of integration”, representing the direction (towards suppliers and/or customers) and degree of integration activity. There was consistent evidence that the widest degree of arc of integration with both suppliers and customers had the strongest association with performance improvement. The implications for our findings on future research and practice in the new millennium are considered.
Article
Purpose The purpose of this paper is to assess the combined impact of radio frequency identification (RFID), Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) and Blockchain technologies on supply chain transparency (SCT). Design/methodology/approach Data from 211 US manufacturing managers is analyzed using a covariance-based structural equation modeling methodology. Findings The structural model fits the data relatively well. RFID technology directly and positively impact both IIoT and Blockchain technologies which, in turn, directly and positively impact SCT. RFID technology indirectly affects SCT through both IIoT technology and Blockchain technology. Research limitations/implications This study is the first to empirically assess the impact of RFID, IIoT and Blockchain technologies on SCT. First-wave empirical studies must be replicated to support generalization of the findings. Practical implications This study provides empirical evidence to support the implementation of a combination of RFID, IIoT and Blockchain technologies as infrastructure necessary to achieve end-to-end SCT. Originality/value New measurement scales for IIoT technology utilization and Blockchain technology utilization are developed and assessed for validity and reliability. This is the first study to assess the combined impact of RFID, IIoT and Blockchain technologies on SCT.
Article
Purpose There is a lot of interest in blockchain in the supply chain and several papers call it a disruptive technology. Existing research, however, is mostly conceptual and focused on use-case development and early pilots. This paper aims to report the findings from a workshop with managers aimed at empirically exploring what adoption rates and focus areas are for blockchain in the supply chain, what drives blockchain in the supply chain applications and what barriers are to the implementation of blockchain in the supply chain. Design/methodology/approach A workshop with managers was organized to empirically explore blockchain adoption levels and focus areas in the supply chain, as well as drivers and barriers of implementation. Findings Workshop participants reported that adoption of blockchain in the supply chain today is very limited but actively considered by many. Drivers for this consideration include achieving greater transparency and visibility, as well as, improving processes and reducing costs. Participants identify many barriers, including a lack of understanding of costs and benefits of blockchain in the supply chain. Interestingly, participants report less concern about the feasibility of the technology implying managerial consideration if progressing beyond the technology and into the potential adoption of it. As a result, participants may be moving beyond the hype surrounding blockchain and giving consideration to the many remaining questions. A working technology does not yet mean that there is a feasible supply chain adoption. As a result, it may be too early to tell whether blockchain will be a disruptive technology. This paper identifies several fruitful areas for further consideration by management and in research. Originality/value As there is little empirical research on blockchain in the supply chain, this paper moves beyond use-case development and the exploration of pilot cases and studies how companies may consider supply chain adoption beyond the pilot and the early development of blockchain. Although only offering an initial exploration, this paper uncovers progress being reported in industry and many areas where further consideration and research can help advance thinking and practice.
Article
Problem definition: Blockchain is a form of distributed ledger technology. While it has grown in prominence, its full potential and possible downsides are not fully understood yet, especially with respect to operations management (OM). Academic/practical relevance: This article fills this gap. Methodology: After briefly reviewing the technical foundations, we explore multiple business and policy aspects. Results: We identify five key strengths, the corresponding five main weaknesses, and three research themes of applying blockchain technology to OM. The key strengths are (1) visibility, (2) aggregation, (3) validation, (4) automation, and (5) resiliency. The corresponding weaknesses are (1) lack of privacy, (2) lack of standardization, (3) garbage in, garbage out, (4) black box effect, and (5) inefficiency. The three research themes are (1) information, (2) automation, and (3) tokenization. Managerial implications: We illustrate these research themes with multiple promising research problems, ranging from classical inventory management, to new areas of ethical OM, and to questions of industrial organization.
Article
Purpose This paper aims to encourage the study of blockchain technology from an operations and supply chain management (OSCM) perspective, identifying potential areas of application, and to provide an agenda for future research. Design/methodology/approach An explanation and analysis of blockchain technology is provided to identify implications for the field of OSCM. Findings The hype around the opportunities that digital ledger technologies offer is high. For OSCM, a myriad of ways in which blockchain could transform practice are identified, including enhancing product safety and security; improving quality management; reducing illegal counterfeiting; improving sustainable supply chain management; advancing inventory management and replenishment; reducing the need for intermediaries; impacting new product design and development; and reducing the cost of supply chain transactions. The immature state of practice and research surrounding blockchain means there is an opportunity for OSCM researchers to study the technology in its early stages and shape its adoption. Research limitations/implications The paper provides a platform for new research that addresses gaps in knowledge and advances the field of OSCM. A research agenda is developed around six key themes. Practical implications There are many opportunities for organisations to obtain an advantage by making use of blockchain technology ahead of the competition, enabling them to enhance their market position. But it is important that managers examine the characteristics of their products, services and supply chains to determine whether they need or would benefit sufficiently from the adoption of blockchain. Moreover, it is important that organisations build human capital expertise that allows them to develop, implement and exploit applications of this technology to maximum reward. Originality/value This is one of the first papers in a leading international OSCM journal to analyse blockchain technology, thereby complementing a recent article on digital supply chains that omitted blockchain.
Article
Blockchains are increasingly studied in the context of new applications. Permissioned blockchains promise to deal with the issue of complete removal of trust, a notion that is currently the hallmark of the developed society. Before the idea is adopted in contexts where resource efficiency and fast operation is a requirement, one could legitimately ask the question: can permissioned blockchains match the performance of traditional large‐scale databases? This paper compares two popular frameworks, Hyperledger Fabric and Apache Cassandra, as representatives of permissioned blockchains and distributed databases, respectively. We compare their latency for varying workloads and network sizes. The results show that, for small systems, blockchains can start to compete with traditional databases, but also that the difference in consistency models and differences in setup can have a large impact on the resulting performance.
Article
Blockchain, as a decentralized ledger technology with characteristics of transparent, secure, permanent and immutable, has been applied in many fields such as cryptocurrency, equity financing, and corporate governance. However, the blockchain technology is in the experimental stage and has several problems to be solved including limited data processing capacity, information confidentiality, and regulatory difficulties. This study sheds light on the potential application of blockchain technology in financial accounting and its possible impacts. We argue that in the short run the public blockchain could be used as a platform for firms to voluntarily disclose information. In the long run, the application could effectively reduce errors in disclosure and earnings management, increase the quality of accounting information and mitigate information asymmetry. We also discuss potential impacts that the application will have on independent auditors and financial accountants.