Blockchain, food fraud and transparency from farm-to-fork are topics that play a major role within the food industry. These topics were discussed at this year’s GFSI conference which took place in Nice, France, from 25th to 28th of February. Experts from all over the world joined the conference during these days. Besides the official presentations, participants shared their knowledge, strengthened their networks and showcased shared learnings.
As the world we live in constantly changes, we have to make sure that we are able to deal with the challenges of keeping our food safe. This is not only a governmental responsibility: Companies and consumers are forced to review their habits to positively influence the overall environment. This task was heavily underlined by Emmanuel Faber, CEO of Danone. He stated that companies need to be as critical and sensitive as possible, questioning their processes day by day to create the best solutions that help everyone on the planet. He also highlighted the importance of the work the GFSI is doing in creating a framework in which companies operate their business.
Blockchain remains a hot topic
This years conference was characterized by topics like blockchain technology, transparency from farm-to fork, challenges of online market places and the importance of underdeveloped markets.
The topic of how Blockchain could be used for food safety was already discussed in 2018. The IBM Food Trust team presented more details at the 2019 conference based on their finished and current projects and outlined the implications of our ability to control the use of data. The question is, how can data be leveraged to achieve meaningful changes in food safety processes and how can it be used to drive accountability and continuous improvement. It can be stated that when management is engaged and focused on food safety and data management, programs have been more successful.
The disadvantage of globalization: food fraud
Online markets have the great advantage that they provide products and services all over the globe. With a few clicks, products can be ordered from anywhere which is why globalization and digitalization have produced a new ecosystem. But the lower the regulation and efforts in food safety are, the more likely it is that criminals will make use of the situation. It is believed that 5% of goods purchased in Europe are fake. The question is, what can be done to fight against these numbers? Transparency can be one answer, as the more transparent an ecosystem is, the more difficult is it to bypass laws and regulations.
Finally, as food safety is a critical and a challenging topic for all countries, independent of size, gross domestic product or infrastructure, we must do our best to support those countries where food safety is a big challenge. In 2020 the GFSI conference will take place in Seattle in the US between 25th and 28th of February. We are looking forward to join this event again.