Earlier today food traceability startup FoodLogiQ revealed the first partners for their upcoming blockchain pilot. According to a press release, they’ll partner with AgBiome Innovations, Subway/Independent Purchasing Cooperative, Testo, and Tyson Foods (the last two of which are also investors in FoodLogiQ) to test the use of blockchain to increase transparency within their supply chains. The pilot is set to kick off later this year.
The company launched FoodLogiQ Labs, an R&D hub for new technologies and products in food safety, earlier last month. Chief Marketing Officer Katy Jones told the Spoon that their first project would be focused on blockchain. This pilot program came a few months after the company raised $19.5 million to intensify and expand their food traceability efforts.
Jones told me that FoodLogiQ’s top priority for the program would be ensuring that their data was standardized and high-quality. “If you don’t have those elements, no amount of transparency will help you,” said Jones. That’s because blockchain is only as strong as its weakest link: if one set of data from the food supply chain is inaccurate — say, the temperature is incorrectly registered for a shipment of chicken — the integrity of the whole thing is compromised.
She also told me that FoodLogiQ didn’t want to hop on the blockchain bandwagon simply to take advantage of the hype. They’re hoping to use the labs to put together pilots and proof of concepts for blockchain within the food supply chain. But Jones still has some healthy skepticism about this much-heralded technology: “It’s still a relative unknown, especially with regards to food” she said. “And at the end of the day, it may not work for us — that’s the point of doing this R&D work.”
In the same press release, FoodLogiQ CEO Dan said that the company would be “taking the lead on blockchain exploration within the food space.” That may be true — but they’re not the only ones. Other food traceability companies, like Ripe.io and Intelex, are also working to create a blockchain for the food system, as is the Walmart-led Food Trust (which also includes Tyson Foods). The results from FoodLogiQ’s pilot program could indicate whether or not blockchain really has the potential to be a magic bullet for food traceability.