Sustainability 2023, 15, 2109. https://doi.org/10.3390/su15032109 www.mdpi.com/journal/sustainability
Achieving UN SDGs in Food Supply Chain Using
*, Michele John
and Vidyasagar Potdar
Discipline of Information Systems, School of Management and Marketing, Curtin Business School,
Curtin University, Perth 6102, Australia
Sustainability Engineering Group, School of Civil and Mechanical Engineering, Curtin University,
Perth 6102, Australia
Symbiosis Institute of Technology, Symbiosis International University, Pune 412115, India
* Correspondence: email@example.com
Abstract: Food supply chains are highly distributed, collaborative, heterogeneous, diverse, and var-
ied by product, process, and destination. The global food supply chain (FSC) objective is to maintain
a good balance between supply and demand and move products from producer to market. How-
ever, sustainability of the FSC has become a major concern as limited resources and increasing pop-
ulation pressure threaten its existence. Supply chain management is an important issue for FSC due
to information flow throughout the supply chain. Industry-specific characteristics and extensive in-
tegration among multiple actors in an entire supply chain exacerbate this situation. The agri-food
sector has one of the lowest rates of information technology penetration for innovation. Over the
past thirty years, information and communication technology (ICT) has been introduced into the
agricultural and food sectors, helping to improve food production and transportation. However,
there are various challenges, such as transparency, accountability, food scandal, trust, and ineffi-
cient information flow, that the food supply chain is still facing in reaching sustainable goals. The
complexity of food supply systems and the opportunities and challenges faced regarding desired
sustainability performance need to be examined to achieve the United Nations Sustainable Devel-
opment Goals (SDGs). Blockchain is an emerging and disruptive digital technology that can trans-
form governance and sustainability in integrated food supply chains. It provides a transparent, im-
mutable, and traceable ledger that minimizes anomalies and information fraud, making it a poten-
tial solution for designing a transparent, traceable food system. Blockchain can potentially improve
the sustainability of the food supply chain by providing a transparent traceability system. Food
traceability is important for managing the food supply chain and protecting public health. It allows
quick and accurate traceability of contaminated food that causes foodborne illness outbreaks, lead-
ing to the withdrawal of contaminated food from markets. Blockchain can achieve traceability,
provenance tracking, transparency, and reduce environmental impact in the food supply chain. It
also helps in achieving sustainable development goals set by the UN. However, there is no scientific
research on blockchain’s contribution to achieving these goals in the food supply chain. Therefore,
this article presents a systematic literature review and thematic analysis to study the relationship
between FSC sustainability, blockchain, and sustainable development goals.
Keywords: blockchain; food supply chain sustainability; food fraud; food security; food safety;
smart contract; systematic literature review; SDGs; traceability; transparency
The food supply chain (FSC) plays a significant role in meeting food and nutritional
needs. The FSC is a complex global system with highly diversified production, processing,
and transportation infrastructure. It is highly distributed, cooperative, heterogeneous,
and diverse and varies according to products, production processes, and destinations.
Citation: Chandan, A.; John, M.;
Potdar, V. Achieving UN SDGs in
Food Supply Chain Using
Sustainability 2023, 15, 2109.
Academic Editors: Ambrogina
Albergamo and Giuseppa Di Bella
Received: 24 December 2022
Revised: 15 January 2023
Accepted: 17 January 2023
Published: 22 January 2023
Copyright: © 2023 by the authors. Li-
censee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland.
This article is an open access article
distributed under the terms and con-
ditions of the Creative Commons At-
tribution (CC BY) license (https://cre-
Sustainability 2023, 15, 2109 2 of 21
FSC management aims to balance demand and supply by transporting produce from the
producer to the market. However, the sustainability of the FSC is becoming a major con-
cern, given finite resources and increasing population pressures. Sustainability depends
on several factors, including food shelf life, spoilage rates, transportation distance, and
costs associated with production processes along with transportation costs.
The Food and Agriculture Organization published a report, “The future of food and
agriculture: trends and challenges” , highlighting different FSC challenges, including pov-
erty and inequality, hunger and malnutrition, sustainable production, and national and
international governance. Other challenges include food quality, food safety, food secu-
rity , environmental sustainability, demand–supply gaps, and the unavailability of in-
formation . These challenges are interlinked with the UN Sustainable Development
Goals 2030 (SDGs 2030), which defines seventeen specific Sustainable Development Goals
(SDGs) along with 232 sustainability indicators. The SDGs are a broader perspective for
achieving sustainability across various domains of human life at a country level. How-
ever, SDGs such as No poverty (SDG-1), Zero hunger (SDG-2), Good health and wellbeing
(SDG-3), Clean water and sanitization (SDG-6), Sustainable production and consumption
(SDG-12), Climate action (SDG-13), Life below water (SDG-14), and Life on land (SDG-15)
have a direct relationship with food supply chain sustainability. Other SDGs are related
indirectly because all SDGs are explicitly interdependent .
Presently, food security is a key challenge that the world is facing. It is described as
“A situation that exists when all people, at all times, have physical, social and economic
access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food that meets their dietary needs and food pref-
erences for an active and healthy life” . According to this, availability, accessibility, uti-
lization, and system stability are the four main dimensions of food security. The demand
for food is growing faster than population growth due to changing living styles and food
habits, posing challenges to meeting food security requirements . Demand for high-
quality, nutritious food from animal products must be addressed sustainably by minimiz-
ing environmental impact and social prospects. In this respect, investment in technologies
and innovation is vital, specifically in low and middle-income nations with a higher pop-
ulation growth rate. It is highly unlikely that the current investment structure in the agri-
cultural sector will deliver a sustainable solution in a rapidly changing world. “Future of
Food: Trends and Challenges”, a report published by the Food and Agriculture Organi-
zation, identified the need for an adequate and affordable food supply through agricul-
tural services to meet the growing needs of an increasing population. The agriculture and
food sector also greatly impacts economic gains and jobs, contributing to 5.9% of global
gross domestic product and at least 35% to global employment .
One of FSC’s key challenges is managing information exchange among supply chain
stakeholders. Industry-specific characteristics and the heterogeneous nature of stakehold-
ers exacerbate this situation. A cautious need-to-know attitude to most “one up, one
down” information flows systems is a challenge; for example, farmers can exchange in-
formation with processors and wholesalers but cannot do it directly with retailers. This
cautious approach becomes a deeper problem in complex supply chains for processed or
packaged foods. Lack of information has long been recognized as an important issue in
agribusiness that affects the overall efficiency of the supply chain . As consumer de-
mand for sustainable food products grows, the pressure on the industry becomes greater.
To meet this demand, more transparency is needed in the face of pressure from consumers
wanting to know more about food provenance and the production process in the context
of health and safety and its environmental impact. A transparent traceability system im-
proves the ability to respond to food emergencies. However, achieving these desired out-
comes is challenging due to the complexity of food production and processing, the diver-
sity of culturally diverse SMEs (small- and medium-sized enterprises), and the lack of
appropriate institutional infrastructure. Although the agri-food sector is a large commer-
cial and industrial sector, it has one of the lowest innovation and information technology
penetration rates. Over the past thirty years, ICT has integrated into the agricultural and
Sustainability 2023, 15, 2109 3 of 21
food sectors to improve production, transportation, and efficient management of the food
supply chain. However, adopting these solutions has been slow for several reasons, in-
cluding a lack of knowledge, high investment requirements, and the expertise needed to
implement them. Another factor leading to the slow adoption of ICT is that existing solu-
tions—such as logistics services and farm information management systems—are closed
proprietary systems. The scaling capabilities of these systems are commensurate with
their cost, and interoperability between them is challenging to ensure supply chain trans-
Agricultural and food supply systems are complex and require attention to achieve
sustainability. Climate change has the biggest impact on food supply chain sustainability.
Still, other critical issues related to sustainability include shifts in agriculture financing,
changes in food systems, food security governance, changes in eating patterns, and nutri-
tional demands. Blockchain is an emerging and disruptive technology that can change
food supply chain sustainability and governance. A systematic literature review on block-
chain’s theoretical and exploratory implementation across various aspects of the food sup-
ply chain sustainability was presented. A relational framework was created to show the
dependency between sustainability, blockchain, and SDGs.
The rest of the paper is organized as follows: Section 2 provides a brief overview of
blockchain technology. Section 3 outlines the challenges in food supply chain sustainabil-
ity. Section 4 describes the methodology used in this research. Section 5 presents a the-
matic analysis of the reviewed article and relational framework, and Section 6 discusses
future directions and conclusions.
The blockchain is a distributed ledger that stores data in an immutable form using a
hashing algorithm and consensus mechanism. The blockchain enables a transparent, dis-
tributed data storage system where node-to-node transactions occur. Blockchain can be
seen as a combination of digital technologies comprising distributed networks, consensus
mechanisms, hashing algorithms, public–private key infrastructure, and cryptography.
Blockchain’s first-generation use case was in digital currency creation and transaction,
where it was used to store transactions of digital coins (cryptocurrencies) independent of
a centralized authority such as centralized banks. It is followed by the second-generation
blockchain, which includes smart contracts that support automation and fundamental
building blocks of decentralized applications and provides more functionalities, com-
monly referred to as Blockchain 2.0 .
Smart contracts unlock blockchain potential across several sectors, such as the supply
chain, health care, information management, voting, insurance, and identity manage-
ment. A smart contract is “a set of promises, specified in digital form, including protocols
within which the parties perform on these promises” . Blockchain ensures that all par-
ticipants in the shared ledger witness all promises and actions, making it difficult, if not
impossible, to circumvent or reverse actions taken after that. Blockchain is characterized
by decentralized, asymmetric cryptography, time stamp, trustless, and smart contracts.
Blockchain helps build mutual trust and confidence among businesses that partner with-
out a central authority, ensuring transparency through consensus protocol.
Blockchain can be compared to a database like a ledger, where digital data are stored
on a ledger page, and each page of the ledger is hashed and then digitally connected with
the next page. One major difference with a blockchain database is that data, once stored
on the blockchain, cannot be changed or altered, or deleted. It remains there forever. Data
stored on blockchains can include simple transaction data and computer programs known
as smart contracts. These smart contracts automate business logic by receiving infor-
mation from outside sources; these input data can be fetched from the blockchain or en-
tered from outside using an oracle, whereas the output is stored on the blockchain. Smart
contracts build distributed applications that bring more transparency and automation to
Sustainability 2023, 15, 2109 4 of 21
business processes. The immutability of blockchains supports smart contracts as a trust-
building block among business partners because they cannot be modified once executed.
3. Food Supply Chain Sustainability Challenges
Sustainable food systems can be achieved through environmentally and socially cen-
tered economic solutions to fulfil current and future populations’ food and nutrition de-
mands. The three fundamental challenges that must be managed collectively to obtain
optimal trade-offs include feeding a fast-growing population, providing livelihoods, and
protecting the environment . These challenges can be improved with better policy de-
sign and implementation. Policy design is one of the greatest challenges in achieving the
SDGs. The policy design process involves many factors, including competition in the in-
dustry and rapid rationalization, supply chain integration, food safety and quality con-
cerns, potential environmental impact, changing consumer preferences for healthier
meals, changing labor demands, and biosecurity risks [2,10].
The global food supply chain is expected to meet the demand for food for an esti-
mated population of 8.5 billion by 2030. It is an increase from today’s 7.6 billion people,
which has grown steadily since 2000 . Food insecurity is a major challenge; it is under-
stood that food production is increasing, but demand is increasing more rapidly. Food
production and wastage are also growing rapidly with a rise in overall demand, increas-
ing income, and lifestyle. These factors contribute to climate change and food security,
two major concerns moving forward to achieve the UN Sustainable Development Goals
(SDGs). Agriculture and food production employs a labor population and financially sup-
port people to contribute to the “No Poverty” goal—specifically in developing and un-
derdeveloped countries. The global food supply chain, along with modern intensive farm-
ing, involves many farms’ machinery and significant transportation of food from produc-
tion sites to consumption sites, contributing significantly to GHG emissions and climate
change. Overall, farming is one of the prime contributors to global GHG emissions .
The primary drivers behind poor sustainability practices in the food supply chain are
a lack of government policy, technology, knowledge, and awareness among farmers .
Educating farmers about sustainability practices and training them to use the latest mod-
ern technology will be key to achieving food sustainability. However, it will be a slow
process and may take a generation before substantial results are delivered.
Food safety is also important in achieving the UN’s zero-hunger goal. Recent food
safety scandals involving baby milk powder, horse meat, and E. coli bacteria have put
many people at risk of foodborne illness [14–16]. Several latest technologies are being used
to prevent and improve food safety incidents, such as RFID (Radio Frequency Identifica-
tion), Internet of Things (IoT), and machine learning (ML) . These technologies and
algorithms can be used to access and analyze raw material procurement, logistics, pro-
cessing, warehousing, and distribution data to design a traceability system that helps de-
tect and track food safety issues. However, these technologies have their drawbacks, such
as low transparency, data privacy, and centralized data storage, which potentially cause
information loss and data tampering .
The food supply chain is a centralized system with several issues linked with integ-
rity, trust, transparency, traceability, and transaction. There is a lack of trust, transaction
delay and fraud, and tracking irregularities among supply chain partners. Traceability
and transparency are prime factors that impact food supply chain sustainability. More
than 400 sustainability standards are vying for the attention of adopters and consumers.
While all standards are based on the three pillars of sustainability (economic, social and
environmental), they were given a different weightage in creating a standard. The four
most employed standards (Rainforest Alliance Certified, Fairtrade, Organic/Bio, UTZ Cer-
tified) differ in scope and purpose . These various sustainability initiatives compete to
determine what criteria a standard must meet to promote sustainability effectively. This
can lead to a lack of safety and trust in these initiatives among professionals and consum-
ers. There is a need for cooperation between different sustainability standards. In this
Sustainability 2023, 15, 2109 5 of 21
aspect, agreeing on a particular standard is less important than implementing a transpar-
ent and independent standard. These independent indicators’ standards should be regu-
larly tested and certified by an independent organization. Certification is equally im-
portant as standard awareness, which requires considerable effort from all supply chain
stakeholders to ensure sustainability with producers .
The United Nations presented 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to achieve
sustainable practices across all sectors at the national level. Integrating FSC sustainability
practices into the SDGs enables the development of sophisticated and advanced supply
chain management strategies that can lead to more stable, ethical and efficient food supply
chains. Although the SDGs represent a different approach to sustainability assessment,
their potential to transform mainstream governance approaches to food supply chain sus-
tainability remains open for discussion and research. The global community’s decision to
evaluate and practice sustainability is taken collectively and encourages each nation to
implement it. These decisions are executed under different circumstances and introduce
new practices that yield new ideas and actions for sustainability . However, develop-
ing an integrated food supply chain sustainability management aligned with SDGs is a
complex process. Management planners may encounter numerous obstacles and limita-
tions in implementing sustainability assessment objectives. It needs the involvement of all
supply chain partners to integrate SDGs and the food supply chain for sustainability prac-
tices to be successful.
It should be noted that not all SDGs contribute directly to food supply chain sustain-
ability. No research that discusses FSC sustainability alignment with the SDGs and the
use of blockchain technology is available. Those SDGs that are observed to be directly
related to the FSC include No poverty (SDG-1), Zero hunger (SDG-2), Good health and
wellbeing (SGD-3), Responsible consumption and production (SDG-12), Climate action
(SDG-13), Life below water (SDG-14), and Life on land (SDG-15).
4. Research Method
This article adopted a systematic literature review (SLR) methodology to identify,
select, and critically evaluate the research article  to identify the blockchain application
in food supply chain to address different SDGs. SLR methodology comprises four stages:
define research questions, literature collection, exclusion and inclusion criteria, and mate-
4.1. Research Questions
Research question and objective of this research was presnted in Table 1.
Table 1. Research question and objective
# Research Question Research Objective
RQ 1 To identify food supply chain sustainability
challenges in line with UN SDGs?
This research question investigates FSC
sustainability challenges and aligns them with
What features of blockchain are
in literature to solve the sustainability
challenges identified in RQ 1?
The primary objective is to explore how block-
chain was used in literature to solve sustainabil-
ity challenges of the food supply chain to
RQ 3 How can blockchain be used in achieving
The primary objective was to uncover the
interaction among identified FSC challenges,
blockchain applications and SDG.
4.2. Material Collection
A systematic literature review’s first step is to collect relevant literature. The docu-
ments included for the analysis include peer-reviewed articles, conference papers, theses,
Sustainability 2023, 15, 2109 6 of 21
and dissertations. Documents were searched in scientific databases Scopus and Web of
Science published between January 2009 to July 2022. In search criteria, 2009 was used as
important filter criterion because first application of blockchain technology emerged in
2009, in the form of Bitcoin . However, its application in food supply chain sustaina-
bility was first published in 2016 . Therefore, articles that were reviewed and analyzed
in this research were published between 2016 and 2022 (Figure 1). The search keywords
to select relevant paper was constructed based on objective of this research. The search
terms used for search in the database were “blockchain*” or “distributed ledger” and
“food supply chain”, or “agriculture supply chain”, or “food supply chain sustainability”,
or “agriculture supply chain sustainability”.
4.3. Exclusion and Inclusion Criteria
The articles that sparsely mentioned blockchain and supply chains without any sus-
tainability issues were excluded. There were other instances where articles had both
terms, but overall, the articles did not contribute to this field. Few articles mentioned the
concept of blockchain and the food supply chain. However, no solution or analysis was
presented to address the research questions. Another exclusion criterion was the language
of the article.
Figure 1. Systematic literature review.
4.4. Descriptive Analysis
This study analyzed 45 research articles published between 2016 and 2022, which in-
clude blockchain applications in the food supply chains for various objectives such as trace-
ability, transparency, monitoring, food safety, provenance, and governance which contrib-
ute to enhancing the sustainability of food supply chain. Even though blockchain is a con-
cept that started a decade ago, its application in the food supply chain sustainability is in
early stages. Therefore, limited literature is available in this domain. However, research in-
terest has rapidly increased in the last couple of years. A thematic analysis was selected to
categorize selected articles based on themes. The primary theme was food safety and qual-
ity, food insecurity environmental sustainability, and food trade and policy.
4.5. Category Selection
This stage involved categorizing collected literature according to the research prob-
lem and objective. All the selected articles were classified into six categories: problem
Sustainability 2023, 15, 2109 7 of 21
statement, proposed solution, methodology, data set, application area, and findings.
These categories are effective in the structural analysis of each article to identify the re-
search contribution. Moreover, analysis of the sub-categories within problem and solution
categories, e.g., in the problem category, different issues were summarized, such as food
security, food safety, traceability, cost, performance, infrastructure, and food quality.
5. Blockchain Adoption in the Food Supply Chain to Achieve SDGs
Innovations in information and digital technology are changing how industries and
consumers communicate, interact, and share information. These innovations come from
smartphones, smartwatches, drones, Internet of Things (IoT) computers, artificial intelli-
gence, and machine learning. These innovative devices and algorithms benefit the food
supply chain in various ways. For example, monitoring climate change and analyzing its
impact on the food sector . Information and communication technology benefits the
global food supply chain by offering real-time critical data, analysis, and digital technol-
ogies during pre-harvest and post-harvest operations. It can also be used to develop trace-
ability systems that track food production and transportation processes from farm to fork.
Blockchain technology is not only seen as a tool that enables transparent and reliable
transactions within the food supply chain but also contributes to reducing transaction
costs, supply chain governance, and resource functions. Blockchain applications in food
supply blockchain adds value to trust, security, traceability, and decentralization. Block-
chain-centric food supply chains create information symmetry using blockchain as a data
structure. The food supply chain stakeholders can store and exchange information confi-
dentially and transparently, use smart contracts, and execute various supply chain activ-
ities such as automated payments to vendors. A smart contract can also replace traditional
legal and financial contracts.
Blockchain technology is also a strategic tool that can impact supply chain restruc-
turing and food companies’ capabilities. More specifically, investments for blockchain im-
plementation along the supply chain led to increased bilateral dependence between sup-
ply chain partners and a higher degree of coordination of vertical relationships. It will also
contribute to the advancement of stable relationships and improved collaboration among
supply chain partners. In addition, adopting blockchain will develop competencies that
help manage innovation along the chain and other competencies that give a competitive
Blockchain, combined with other technology such as sensors, IoT, cloud, and artifi-
cial intelligence (AI), enables real-time data access and brings accountability and trans-
parency to the food supply chain. Blockchain combined with IoT can impact areas such as
provenance, payments automation, quality check, and management of the food supply
chain . Additionally, processing and analyzing a large dataset from the blockchain and
AI application provide a better understanding and insight into the supply chain that will
help move towards sustainable food production and consumption cycle. Blockchain ap-
plication in FSC provides a transparent and reliable traceability system which is important
in protecting public health because it can quickly and accurately track the source of con-
taminated food, fruit, or vegetables suspected to be responsible for developing foodborne
Among the 17 SDGs of the UN, the Food and Agriculture Organization is custodian
7 SDGs, including “Zero hunger (SDG-1), Gender Equality (SDG-5), Clean Water and San-
itation (SDG-6), Responsible consumption and production (SDG-12), Climate action
(SDG-13), Life below water (SDG-14) and Life on land (SDG-15)”. Therefore, these indica-
tors are directly linked to the food sector. Blockchain applications in FSC could help
achieve SDGs in improving food safety, transparency, traceable inventory management,
auditing, regulation and supervision, fraud detection, scalability, data security, and re-
duced costs . This paper will discuss various aspects of the blockchain feature and its
application in FSC that could lead to achieving SDGs.
Sustainability 2023, 15, 2109 8 of 21
5.1. Food Safety and Quality
Over the last few decades, numerous food scandals and mislabeled food information
have brought great attention to food safety issues and heightened consumer concerns
about food quality, such as mad cow diseases, horsemeat scandal, melamine baby milk
formula, and many more [15,28]. The Food and Agriculture Organization describes food
safety as “absence (or acceptable levels) of food hazards that may harm consumers’
health.” Food can easily be contaminated during processing, packaging, transporting, and
storage. Therefore, food safety must be guaranteed during all these steps in the supply
chain. Food safety is a critical global food supply chain issue and falls under the Zero
hunger (SDG-2) goal, whereas food quality directly influences the health of people (SDG-
3) (Figure 2). The food supply chain is a complex system spread across the globe. There-
fore, collecting food safety data and its verification to provide transparent traceability is
difficult. A complete food tracing system from production to retail is essential for protect-
ing food quality and safety.
While food safety is a key concern for customer wellbeing, the participation of pro-
ducers is also essential in a formalized global supply chain to increase income and reduce
market uncertainty. It is important to adopt a transparent process to certify ethically and
sustainably produced food products . Transparency will increase the perceived value
of healthy and safe foods and consumer willingness to pay for them. Ensuring food safety,
quality, traceability, and post-harvest management is a complex and intricate issue in the
food supply chain. With the advancement of digital technology and social media, con-
sumers are more concerned about their food choices. Agri-food producers are well in-
formed about consumers’ demands for healthy products made with natural ingredients
and non-adulterated processes. Assuming that consumers read product labels attentively
to get informed about product sustainability, blockchain can become an important tool to
monitor and provide a transparent label that consumers can trust. It will also force pro-
ducers to offer higher-quality products . Digitizing the food supply chain and adding
other technology along with blockchains, such as Radio Frequency Identification (RFID)
and IoT, can reduce the potential for error and fraud and improve transparency and prod-
uct traceability [17,31].
5.1.1. Food Traceability
Food traceability is important for food safety. Traceability helps in tracking the food
product from its origin to consumption. In the case of a food safety issue at the consumer
end, traceability can help track the product’s origin and find causes for safety issues .
The International standard organization (ISO) describes traceability as a “technical tool to
assist an organisation to conform with its defined objectives and is applicable when nec-
essary to determine the history, or location of a product or its relevant components” (ISO
22005:2005). Replacing the paper-based tracking system with a digital one means that data
from the “farm to fork” tracking system can be accessed in a few seconds.
On the other hand, the food industry could reduce food waste with a digital tracea-
bility system and deliver ecological and economic sustainability. The FSC poses many
problems, including food fraud, label tampering, excessive use of pesticides and fertiliz-
ers, and illegal production, which could be resolved with a transparent traceability sys-
tem. The lack of food traceability or poor traceability causes serious concerns about food
contamination, insecurities, loss of consumer trust, and product recalls. Competition
drives the value chain when businesses and global markets are highly efficient. From a
marketing standpoint, traceability throughout the supply chain ensures consistent prod-
uct delivery to customers by ensuring food safety at a high standard. Three requirements
must be met to provide end-to-end transparent traceability: (a) verify data source for any
data manipulation prior to transmission to maintain data integrity, (b) store data must be
immutable and tamper-proof and accessible to the user in a transparent manner, and (c)
the confidentiality of the data and the interests of the producer must be protected.
Sustainability 2023, 15, 2109 9 of 21
Therefore, a basic food traceability system can be modelled to fulfil these three important
criteria. However, it is very challenging to develop a concrete traceability model to ad-
dress concerns about food quality and safety due to large number of food products in the
Recently, blockchain has been used extensively in designing transparent traceability
systems for the food supply chain . The blockchain-based traceability system is char-
acterized by data integrity, security, transparency, reliability, real-time information ex-
change on hazardous materials, and the ability to trace dynamics. However, a blockchain-
based traceability system is insufficient for food safety and quality. Integration of other
latest digital technologies, such as the Internet of Things (IoT), RFID, and Artificial Intel-
ligence could offer a better transparent and trustable traceability system. IoT devices au-
tomate data-receiving processes without human interference and store them on the block-
chain. Minimizing human involvement will enhance food safety .
Figure 2. Food safety and quality and SDG.
In , a blockchain and IoT-based traceability were presented called BRUSCHETTA
to track Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO). This platform prevents falsifying data, allowing
consumers access to tamper-proof product history and assured product quality. Likewise,
in , a grain supply chain traceability system was proposed. A smart contract was used
to store quality and hazardous-material information and compare it with industry stand-
ards. In , blockchain was utilized in designing a traceability system for the cocoa bean
supply chain. Blockchain has improved the transparency of the cocoa bean traceability
system, which improves food safety and information exchange, fulfils consumer demands
for safer food, reduces child labor, and stops unethical practices. In , blockchain appli-
cations showed promising improvement in only the product’s external quality attributes,
while internal quality remains the same. This could be because the actors in the supply
chain agreed on product quality protocols before deploying blockchain.
In the case of perishable goods, monitoring the temperature along the supply chain
to ensure food quality is important. Blockchain, along with IoT sensors and QR codes, can
be used to guarantee quality and prevent food fraud . For example, in a fish supply
chain, IoT and blockchain-based fish tracking systems can be designed to monitor fish
quality along the supply chain by recording the fishing location time and continuously
monitoring temperature, salinity, and dissolved oxygen during transportation . The
QR code can be integrated into the system to enhance system productivity. The QR code
provides an easier interface for details such as catch area, fishing date, location, trans-
porter, and transporting condition . It can be further used to analyze and support sus-
tainable marine ecosystem practices and stop excessive fishing in a geographic location
. Consumers can access these details to make an informed purchase decision to buy
quality and safe produce. The regulatory authorities can also verify the product’s compli-
ance with given rules and standards. Blockchain can also be utilized in the distribution of
Sustainability 2023, 15, 2109 10 of 21
perishable products. It could verify and exchange real-time transparent, tamper-proof
warehouse and transportation data to analyze food safety and quality .
In , blockchain technology, along with visual techniques such as migration maps,
heat maps, and directed graphs, was used to visualize an unqualified product, food safety
risks, and product tracing in the supply chain. The visual technique supports risk assess-
ments and provides a better management capability to reduce food safety and protect
consumer health. In , a blockchain-based livestock monitoring system was proposed
to trace contamination in production, food authenticity, and disease warning. Similarly,
in , a blockchain-based traceability system was presented for Australian beef sold in
China. The prototype analysis showed that customer trust has improved with a block-
chain-based credentialed traceability system.
The management culture applied to the food supply chain impacts the quality of the
end product and the vitality of companies. A blockchain-based food supply chain man-
agement system that leverages IoT and AI technologies were proposed in . It manages
user information, meat product pricing at all levels for each batch, and traceability infor-
mation on meat products. If the industry publishes enough data from the food supply
chain, consumer confidence can be restored in the food industry, which has been damaged
due to several food scandals. The visibility provided by the blockchain is scalable to au-
ditors and authorities. The provision of audit data on the blockchain can be facilitated by
smart contracts that automate compliance with food safety standards . Companies can
utilize the blockchain to maintain product safety records for marketing claims that can be
shared with third-party supply chain partners, tax, customs, or certification authorities.
Policymakers may also access this data for policy design, financial planning, and legal
5.1.2. Monitoring and Supervising
Government agencies can use the blockchain to achieve multi-faceted management
of the food market and safety and quality monitoring. A blockchain-based supply chain
where regulatory authorities are a node that can record data on food market transaction
information can resolve regulatory challenges in food quality checks . A blockchain-
based food supervision system supports transparent and trustable information exchange
among supply chain partners, regulators, and consumers. The regulator can verify food
safety and store verification data on the blockchain. The blockchain-based system can be
designed to protect businesses’ data privacy by providing the required data only to the
regulator to verify the safety and quality of produce. In , a blockchain credit evaluation
system was suggested to monitor and supervise trading partners for food supply chains.
It collected feedback on produce, traders’ behavior, and reliability of the supply chain
using a smart contract. This feedback was then analyzed using a deep learning method to
determine the credit rating of a trader. A trustable credit information system of the supply
chain partner can be used to choose a reliable and trustable partner. The regulator can
utilize credit information to penalize and award traders based on their rating, whereas
credit ratings help the consumer select better-quality products. The consumer can check
food quality and safety data online and can trust these data .
In , a blockchain architecture called SHEEPDOG was proposed to enable a secure,
trustworthy, and privacy-preserving food monitoring system to reduce food scandals.
This attribute-based credential mechanism integrated sensors and IoT devices into a
blockchain using a public–private key. The data stored on the blockchain were trustwor-
thy and transparent, as they could be verified using the public–private key. Similarly, in
, a blockchain-based product monitoring system was presented that could integrate
with existing infrastructure and store product data across the supply chain. It was em-
ployed to trace the livestock from farm to store. RFID was used along with blockchain to
streamline product identification. A smart contract algorithm can be designed that com-
pares the national standard targets for food additives and temperature control with the
Sustainability 2023, 15, 2109 11 of 21
recorded values to automate food quality monitoring and address any safety issues
Mislabeled food products, where misleading information was provided on a prod-
uct’s label to gain economic benefit, cause more significant concern for food safety and
consumer health. In , an image-based traceability system was presented to counter
fake labeled products. In their example, the proposed system and the blockchain provide
tamper-proof traceability for honey production. A pollen signature verification using ar-
tificial intelligence was used to verify the origin of honey. The traceability of data stored
on blockchain by image tracing prevents misleading information and data manipulation.
Similarly, in , a physical attribute-based product verification system using ma-
chine learning was proposed. The physical attribute of a product includes a visual feature,
geographic location and chemical composition. The verification of food fraud can be de-
tected using a machine learning algorithm. However, while the proposed system helps
detect fraudulent food products, it requires higher computation power, which is done off-
chain. A comprehensive list of literature discussed food security issue respective achiev-
able SDGs was presented in Table 2.
5.1.3. Food Provenance
The provenance of food products provides information on their origin. Food prove-
nances are essential for ensuring food safety and offering awareness to the consumer
about the product’s environmental and social impact on local economy. However, track-
ing provenance is challenging when having numerous supply chain partners physically
dispersed throughout a complex food supply chain. The provenance of products can help
in achieving the sustainability goals of Zero hunger (SDG-1), Good health and wellbeing
(SDG-3), Responsible consumption production (SDG-12), Climate action (SDG-13), and
Life below water (SDG-14) (Table 2).
Agricultural provenance systems based on blockchain use decentralization, consen-
sus trust, collective maintenance, and reliable data to solve the trust issue in provenance
tracing systems . In , a blockchain-based provenance and certification system
called BRUSCHETTA was proposed to provide information on the origin of Extra Virgin
Olive Oil produced in Italy. The virgin oil produced in Italy has good quality, so it can be
understood by knowing its provenance. Likewise, in , a blockchain-based provenance
tracking system was proposed for the agricultural and food supply chain. It was deployed
over Ethereum blockchain network and integrated a reputation system with the block-
chain to ensure the credibility of product owners and the assets provided. The blockchain
allows end users to see their food before it is consumed. Consumers can see the food’s
origin and supply chain at the table. In addition, blockchain technology adoption has im-
proved customer satisfaction along the food supply chain and benefited from enhancing
vertical relationships and collaboration .
Table 2. Food sustainability issue and SDG
Food Sustainability Issue Article SDGs
Food Safety and Quality [39–41] 1, 3
Food Traceability [18,25,35–37,42–45]
Monitoring and supervising [49–53] 3, 12, 13
Food Provenance [25,35,54,55] 1, 3, 12, 13, 14
5.2. Food Insecurity
Food insecurity, also known as food accessibility, will reduce inequality in food dis-
tribution and elevate the living standards of people living in extreme poverty (SDG-1). A
good food accessibility system will support the achievement of SDG-2 (Zero hunger) in
terms of malnutrition. Food utilization also provides stable incomes in rural economies to
improve their quality of life (SDG-1, No Poverty) (Figure 3). One of the targets of the Zero
Sustainability 2023, 15, 2109 12 of 21
Hunger goal is to end hunger and ensure food access to all by 2030. A nation must have a
strong public distribution system (PDS) food program, especially in developing and un-
derdeveloped countries where a large population relies on PDS to achieve zero hunger.
PDS plays an important role in improving accessibility of food to vulnerable and poor
populations. However, inefficient and non-transparent corrupt PDS make it challenging
for the government to reach out to the target population. A blockchain-based public dis-
tribution system will bring transparency and reduce corrupt activities. The transparent
and decentralized PDS will reduce malicious activities and enable a consumer to know
the fair price of goods. Government agencies can also retrieve real-time food stock data
from distributors. Tamper-proof data available on the blockchain can be further used for
current policy assessment and future policy-making . In , a prototype PDS system
based on blockchain was presented to distribute food to beneficiaries. This system was
designed from procurement to distribution end, which provides real-time stock data to
help in reducing wastage at the store. The quality control authority can ensure the quality
of food procured and enter quality certification on the blockchain. This decentralized and
transparent system ensures that food is distributed impartially and reaches beneficiaries
on time. However, this system was not fully transparent due to manual data entry, which
resulted in a lack of trust. It can be further improved by integrating IoT and sensors to
automate data entry into the blockchain. A combination of blockchain and IoT-based PDS
can further reduce malicious actor activities, helping reduce corruption. A blockchain-
based system can also audit PDS, ensuring accountability and restoring the consumer’s
trust . A comprehensive list of literature discussed food security issue respective
achievable SDGs was presented in Table 3.
Figure 3. Food insecurity and SDG.
Table 3. Food security issue and SDGs.
Food Security Issue Article SDGs
Public Distribution System (PDS) using blockchain. [56–58] 1, 2, 3
Reduce wastage in the supply chain [57,58] 2, 12
5.3. Environmental Sustainability
Sustainable farming improves agricultural productivity, ensures a sustainable natu-
ral resource base for the future, and addresses climate change and intensive exploitation
of natural resources concerned with agricultural production. The food supply chain has
the largest environmental footprint (i.e., carbon and water footprint). Farming is an en-
ergy-intensive process that contributes to about 17% of total greenhouse gas emissions
 and around 70% of the water used for irrigation purposes. It also occupied nearly 38%
of the Earth’s total surface, higher than any other human activity . Expanding agricul-
tural land to meet food demands can lead to deforestation, resulting in additional green-
house gas (GHG) emissions and biodiversity loss. Integrating digital technology in farm-
ing and food production will assist in reducing the environmental footprint by improving
Sustainability 2023, 15, 2109 13 of 21
food production efficiencies through farm micromanagement and optimal utilization of
storage and logistics to reduce waste. Using digital technology to increase food awareness
among end consumers at retail will also facilitate more environmentally conscious pur-
5.3.1. Carbon Footprint Tracking
Agricultural farming contributes a substantial amount of carbon emissions compared
to processing, packaging, storage, and distribution in the food supply chain. Privacy-pre-
serving, record-keeping systems to track carbon emissions are required to encourage pro-
ducers to provide emission data. A blockchain-based system can track carbon footprints
of food production and transportation stages. In , a cluster-based carbon emission rec-
ord-keeping system based on blockchain was proposed to track the carbon footprint in
food transportation. The information stored on the blockchain was transported produce,
mileage, carbon footprint, and previous cluster information.
5.3.2. Transportation and Infrastructure Issues
Food transport is key in connecting all life-cycle stages of food. In the United States,
food transport contributes around 11% of all greenhouse gas emissions during the food
life cycle . However, the unavailability of transport data makes it hard to estimate
transport carbon dioxide emissions for each food product. In addition, the actual distri-
bution route of the cargo from the origin to the destination is unknown. Overall GHG
emissions were predicted using estimated cargo movement data between states and re-
gions. A local food supply chain generates fewer emissions than a larger supply chain
. Availability of transportation data and cargo movement tracking is necessary to ac-
curately calculate the total carbon footprint of a sole product over its entire life cycle. In
, a blockchain-based Carbon Footprint chain was proposed to provide information on
pre-consumption stages of the food life cycle (from farm to retail). For developing coun-
tries, the transportation system has several crucial issues, such as the mode of transporta-
tion, availability of temperature-controlled vehicles, high transportation costs, and lack of
the right infrastructure for food storage. These issues must be resolved to improve the
effectiveness of food supply chain and achieve the SDGs (Fig 4).
5.3.3. Food Wastage and Loss
There are several examples of food safety agencies issuing food alerts. With such a
warning, much food is getting wasted. However, proper labeling and tracking systems
can identify affected foods. This way, food waste can be reduced by discarding only af-
fected foods. Another concerning area where food waste needs to be addressed is pack-
aging. Packaging is essential in preserving and handling perishable goods to improve
shelf life. In developing nations, food gets wasted because of poor packaging . The UN
SDG “Responsible Consumption and Production” (SDG-12) targets reducing global food
loss. An efficient and transparent traceable system could help improve fish quality and
reduce the risk of food loss . Blockchain applications were studied using a stochastic
five-level batch dispersion model in  (Figure 4). The objective was to reduce recall costs
in cases food contamination occurred. The stochastic mathematical model was designed
considering a random probability distribution of customer demand to optimize batch dis-
persion and improve traceability. The proposed system would provide synchronized in-
formation in real-time among supply chain partners. The availability of batch contamina-
tion information helps the supply chain partner to identify the contaminated food batch
before reaching the consumer. It will save on return costs and resolve health and safety
Sustainability 2023, 15, 2109 14 of 21
Figure 4. Food supply chain environment sustainability and SDG.
5.3.4. Lack of Warehouse and Cold Chain
The performance of the cold supply chain in developing countries is inadequate due
to the lack of infrastructure, resources, and organizational awareness. Improper storage
temperatures can affect the freshness of seafood and perishable food products, leading to
food loss and safety issues.
Traditional warehouses have accounting systems based on manual or centralized da-
tabases. All entries, such as arrival time, departure time, and crowd, are easy to manipu-
late and manipulate . If food is not handled properly, this refrigerated warehouse can
be the epicenter of food waste. In , an autonomous storage system was proposed that
uses machine learning and blockchain technology to combat food waste, reducing food
waste in a cost-effective, easy-to-implement, and efficient way. AI models can be used to
predict sales deadlines based on the current conditions of cold stores and how long a par-
ticular product will last under the current environmental conditions to reduce food waste.
5.4. Food Trade and Policy
5.4.1. Food Trade
Food trading plays a significant role in the food supply chain. The main players in
the food trading system are farmers, processors, traders, distributors, wholesalers, retail-
ers, and consumers. Various organizations and countries have taken precautions to estab-
lish a fair-trading environment. For example, the European Commission banned unfair
trading practices to safeguard medium and small-sized food and agricultural businesses.
Trade in food and agricultural products is subject to many last-minute changes and urgent
orders. It includes late payments for fresh produce, order cancellations at the last minute,
and unilateral contract changes. The perishability of such products and the special re-
quirements to ensure their quality makes them difficult to handle. These problems com-
promise the stability of the food supply chain and reduce transaction efficiency. In addi-
tion, the complexity of the transaction process, long transaction times and high transaction
costs make trading even less efficient. The dynamics and uncertainties of supply and de-
mand, the lack of clarity about the quality of fresh food, and the availability of the right
amount in a timely and specific location are other factors that challenge agricultural trade
development. Therefore, we need to find a solution that can protect the fairness of trans-
actions and improve the efficiency of grocery transactions.
A consortium blockchain-based food trading system called FTSCON (Food Trading
System COnsortium blockchaiN) was proposed to improve transaction security and trust
issues . The proposed system sets permission and authentication criteria for several
roles in food trading, fulfilling privacy protection for multi-stakeholders. The optimized
transaction algorithm is designed to help the user to find the right transaction object. Nu-
merical analysis confirms the system’s effectiveness in maximizing dealer profits quickly
and with little computational effort. Developing a sustainable organic food trade system
involves the participation of diverse combinations of organic producers, processors,
Sustainability 2023, 15, 2109 15 of 21
distributors, retailers, suppliers, peer organizations, and individuals. In the diverse or-
ganic food supply chain, the proposed system is an efficient digital tool for traders to en-
sure market fairness and reduce information asymmetry. It would also improve profit for
merchants helping support the system’s economic value .
Improving small-scale farmer/producer income is one of the primary targets in
achieving Zero hunger (SDG-2) and No-poverty (SDG-1). A small-scale producer can gain
more profit if they have direct market access. Marketing small farmers’ products are often
done in arranged spaces or by intermediaries. Small farmers have less chance to market
their products directly to the consumer. Farmers have fewer opportunities to sell their
products directly to the consumer and earn more profit. Blockchain can connect producers
and consumers and provide a trading platform for small farmers to sell their products
without restrictions at lower prices and earn more profit  (Figure 5).
Blockchain guarantees the creation of credible supply chains for producers and con-
sumers by allowing secure information exchange about the status of farms, product stocks
and contracts. A smart contract-based payment system guarantees timely payments be-
tween supply chain actors. Further, smart contracts can automate trading. The blockchain-
based trading system brings transparency, trust and security to the trading process and
improves profitability without much change in production costs . In , an image-
based traceability system integrated with blockchain was proposed to provide honey
keepers direct access to premium markets to earn more profit. The smart tracking system
gives farmers better market access and reduces transaction costs. An asymmetric trans-
parent information system reduces transportation costs by better coordinating between
producer and processor. Information transparencies empower small-scale producers to
understand buyer needs and thus have better negotiation power. The transaction cost
could be reduced with a smart contract that automates the transaction process and pro-
vides protection against exploitation by big corporates .
Figure 5. Food trading and SDG.
5.4.2. Food Policy
Measures to improve the environmental sustainability of food production can lead
to higher production costs and higher consumer prices. In other words, strategies that
address some of the challenges of the triple bottom line often have synergies (positive
effects) or trade-offs (negative effects) relating to other sustainability goals (Fig 5). One
problem perspective for each goal over other goals may lead to unintended effects. Poli-
cymakers need to address key sustainability challenges and consider their interrelation-
ships. In policy development, it is essential to consider the views and needs of all the
stakeholders in the food supply chain, including farmers, processors, traders, consumer
representatives, researchers, and environmentalists.
In developing countries, the food sectors are getting less attention during develop-
ment and policy design, resulting in a lack of infrastructure and resources to achieve food
security and reduce food waste. Creating a decentralized database using blockchain to
gain access to data in near real-time will help policymakers. However, data inaccuracies
Sustainability 2023, 15, 2109 16 of 21
can contribute to over-exploitation of resources and result in ecological imbalances. A
blockchain-based fishing monitoring system to help regulators develop more scientific
and reasonable regulatory strategies to reduce overfishing was presented in . Built-in
smart weighing system to increase weight accuracy while fishing that automatically rec-
ords weights and transmits this information using blockchain with data transparency and
verifiability. In addition, it also facilitates government agencies to control and manage
ecological risk areas.
6. Discussion and Future Research Area
SDGs include an overall sustainability aspect of the world at national level, and most
developing and underdeveloped countries are agricultural-based economies. Therefore,
improving sustainability in the agriculture sector is crucial to achieving SDGs. With the
increasing reach of information and communication technology (ICT) in recent times, it is
important to use ICT effectively to achieve sustainable development goals for a food sup-
ply chain that has the highest impact on sustainability and employs the largest workforce
compared to any other sector . In recent times, various ICTs such as mobile, web, IoT,
cloud computing, machine learning, and drone have been used in food production and
distribution to improve productivity and reduce cost and environmental impact .
These technologies benefited in efficient use of machinery, tracking of food products, and
information sharing. However, FSC still lacking in transparency and trust which impacted
in improving sustainability. Blockchain is the technology that will fill these gaps.
Blockchain use cases improve various sustainability aspects in the food supply chain
by bringing transparency and a trustable data system which helps in achieving SDGs such
as No poverty (SDG-1), Zero hunger (SDG-2), Good health and wellbeing (SDG-3), Sus-
tainable production and consumption (SDG-12), Climate action (SDG-13), Life below wa-
ter (SDG-14), and Life on land (SDG-15).
Blockchain improves five main aspects of the agri-food industry: traceability, trans-
parency, accountability, product labeling, and financial efficiency. Improving these as-
pects enhances consumer trust in the food supply chain . Blockchain provides digital
support for food traceability systems through data security and transparency. It enables
the consumer to check history of food they are buying. Studies showed that blockchain-
based traceability systems contribute to sustainable behaviors in agri-food processing,
where users can also monitor and audit regulatory compliance reports which enhance
transparency and accountability of farms . Blockchain-based traceability systems that
integrate data transparency and visibility, ensuring product authenticity and legitimacy,
help in improving food safety and quality. Blockchain also provides a decentralized dis-
tributed system that removes intermediaries resulting in a direct communication channel
between producer and consumer, which improves transaction efficiencies and leads to
rural development and greater financial inclusion. Blockchain is a valuable digital tech-
nology that provides much-needed data transparency to support the fight against corrup-
tion, counterfeit products, and non-regulatory compliance .
Studies showed that blockchain along with other technology like IoT, and RFID could
improve sustainability performance [35,42,49]. IoT and blockchain could be used to mon-
itor life under sea and ecological systems to check overexploitation of sea resources by
accessing transparent fishing data . However, using an IoT system makes the system
more transparent, efficient, and reliable, and it comes with challenges, such as the higher
cost of the system. For example, in case of tracking fishing activity, IoT and blockchain
integration should be made into every fishing boat in any specified area to track fishing
activity; however, it is important to analyze if it is an economically viable solution or not
before implementation .
This study showed that there are various aspects where blockchain contributed to
improving the food supply chain sustainability and thus achieving SDGs. Previous stud-
ies on food supply chain and SDGs [74,75] showed that a food supply chain requires all
stakeholders to contribute to achieving SDGs. Therefore, a blockchain-based system that
Sustainability 2023, 15, 2109 17 of 21
removes information asymmetry issues in food supply chain could help in achieving in
SDG. This study provides a contextual relationship between blockchain technology appli-
cations and the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. This will provide a guideline for
future research on using blockchain technology in food supply chain management to con-
sider sustainability when conducting these studies.
Blockchain has shown much promise in improving the food supply chain sustaina-
bility. However, certain factors delay its wider adoption across industries, including
blockchain, a relatively new technology, and the required implementation and infrastruc-
ture cost, such as blockchain application in the public distribution system (PDS) to solve
food insecurity issues by reducing corrupt practices, and better auditing practices. How-
ever, PDS is mostly implemented in low-income to middle-income countries which has
low penetration of ICT, and in this scenario, if the blockchain-based system was im-
planted, it would not benefit a mass population and will be costly concerning the local
economy . Blockchain applications in the food supply chain are still in an early phase.
The food industry is moving slowly along the learning curve to understand its economic
benefits. Studies on blockchain-based system development focus mainly on technical as-
pects, but little research has been conducted on business sustainability and economic via-
bility. Environmental and social aspects must be considered in future research at each
phase of blockchain-based system development. However, its application is in an early
stage, and there are various drawbacks, technical and non-technical. Blockchain use case
in direct engagement of producer and consumer provides a better opportunity for the
producer to earn more benefit. However, it is difficult for the technically unskilled pro-
ducer to adapt to complex blockchain-based trading systems .
In the agri-food supply chain, private and consortium blockchain solutions were pre-
ferred to design tracking, tracing, and provenance information systems due to better scala-
bility and data privacy than public blockchain . Blockchain platform selection is im-
portant, as business performance might be impacted by selecting the wrong platform.
Smart contract development is still fairly slow, although technology is evolving rapidly.
However, a lack of technical understanding, potential applications and economic benefits
led to slower adoption rates. Research on the potential economic impacts of blockchain
integration is limited and should be considered in future research.
Most supply chain partners maintain their ICT infrastructure and software solutions
in a traditional supply chain, so migrating to a new blockchain-based system could be
challenging. There is currently a lack of blockchain applications, creating potential doubt
in their implementation . In addition to technical issues, successful adoption of block-
chain technology in complex and low-profit margin food supply chains depends on costs
and benefits analysis and other external factors such as consumer demand and regulatory
requirements . The government’s lack of a formal roadmap to integrate blockchain
into the food supply chain is another challenge in blockchain adoption. Food supply chain
actors are not on the same page about its impact and benefits. The food supply chain is
very diverse, so there is a need for some globally accepted policies and standards required
to integrate blockchain. The development of a standard ontology that defines messaging
standards and the data to be stored is necessary. It could be done at the national as well
as international level. There is also the need to define a data interoperability policy. Other
challenges include framing laws related to government agencies’ roles, regulators’ re-
quirements, and data privacy .
Most of the studies reviewed showed that the blockchain technology improved sus-
tainability performance. However, reviewed studies are mostly either conceptual  or
framework [35,45], which does not provide any quantifying evidence to show blockchain
benefit. Therefore, future study should focus on quantifying sustainability benefit with
blockchain implementation in food supply chain. In future studies, an indicator matrix
could be integrated to measure sustainability improvement.
Sustainability 2023, 15, 2109 18 of 21
Blockchain is a technology that works entirely and effectively only when every stake-
holder in the supply chain adopts it. Blockchain-based traceability and transparency sys-
tems help food supply chain actors to build better relationships with customers, increase
efficiency, and reduce risks and costs of collection in case of product recall fraud and prod-
uct loss. However, challenges remain among supply chain participants, such as trust in
technology, human error and fraud, governance, availability and access to commercial
data, and willingness to pay for sustainable goods. Stakeholders must be encouraged to
participate, share responsibilities, and act ethically. Open standards and system interop-
erability are important considerations when designing a sustainability information man-
The food supply chain sector will play a major role in achieving the United Nations
SDGs goal by the deadline of 2030. It is well known that food production has a major
impact on the environment and is also the largest employment sector that impacts sus-
tainability’s economic and social dimensions. The food sector needs more support and
better government policies to encourage producers and consumers to adopt more sustain-
able practices. It could be achieved by providing the latest cutting-edge technology sup-
port and increasing consumer awareness. Blockchain and other digital technologies, such
as AI and IoT, could be used together to provide a transparent and reliable sustainability
information system. However, all these technologies require expert implementation and
integration, which can be difficult for SMEs. In addition, good training platforms are cru-
cial for training non-specialized people to use embedded digital technology.
Author Contributions: Conceptualization, A.C.; Methodology, A.C.; Formal analysis, A.C.; Investi-
gation, A.C.; Resources, A.C.; Writing—original draft, A.C.; Writing—review & editing, A.C., M.J.
and V.P.; Visualization, A.C.; Supervision, M.J. and V.P. All authors have read and agreed to the
published version of the manuscript.
Funding: This research received no external funding.
Institutional Review Board Statement: Not Applicable.
Informed Consent Statement: Not Applicable.
Data Availability Statement: Not Applicable.
Acknowledgments: This research was supported by Innovation Central Perth and Food Agility
CRC Scholarship and conducted within the Blockchain Research and Development Lab (BRDL) at
Curtin University’s Faculty of Business and Law.
Conflicts of Interest: The authors declare no conflict of interest.
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