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Where Was Your Beef? How One Farmers’ Co-op Will Track Meat on the Blockchain

In an attempt to provide transparency to customers, a group of livestock farmers in Arkansas is planning to implement blockchain technology to track the origins of meat products.

Economic development charity Heifer International published a press release on August 2 announcing a partnership between the Arkansas-based Grass Roots Farmers’ Cooperative and the British startup Provenance. By using blockchain tech, customers will be able to track meat products “from farm to fork.” The farmers’ co-op believes using the technology will boost the confidence of consumers since they will have more insight on the quality and origins of the meat they purchase.

Detailed in a separate press release published by the Grass Roots Farmers’ Cooperative, the farmers are planning to put QR codes on the meat products they sell, which customers can use to track their food on the blockchain using Provenance’s platform. In addition to the quality and the origins of the meat, customers will be able to see how the animals were raised and gain insight into the people who contributed to producing the final product.

“Americans have an increasing interest in better understanding what they’re eating. According to the 2016 Label Insight Study, 83 percent of consumers want more information about what’s in their food, and I totally believe it,” Cody Hopkins, Grass Roots general manager and founding member, wrote.

“When I learned about this technology, I thought, ‘This is the solution.’ It’s the perfect way for Grass Roots to offer folks total transparency. Provenance has developed a platform that levels the playing field for small-scale farmers and puts information directly in consumers’ hands.”

According to Hopkins, the same study showed that 75 percent of the U.S. citizens polled stated they do not trust the accuracy of food labels. The Grass Roots founding member believes utilizing blockchain tech for meat products will provide transparency, thereby improving the reputations of the farmers among consumers.

“This is a total breakthrough for the small-scale, sustainable farmer. Until now, it’s been a struggle for us to tell the story of why our foods are different from those raised in feedlots and large chicken houses. With blockchain, we can show you,” Hopkins wrote.

Hopkins added, “We can prove exactly who raised the animal and how it was raised, how many animals were raised in its batch and how they lived, and who the butcher was and how it was harvested. And all of this farm-to-fork information is authenticated by a technology that’s virtually unhackable.”

San Francisco–based Golden Gate Meat Company will be the first to trial blockchain tech for their products using Provenance’s platform. According to Heifer International’s press release, the test of the platform for meat products started on August 2.

“Our farmers are innovative, always looking for ways to incorporate the latest technology that ultimately create real value to the consumer,” said Pierre Ferrari, chair of Heifer USA’s advisory board.

“It’s only a matter of time before this becomes ‘best practice’ throughout the industry.”

Benjamin Vitaris

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