Provenance, a blockchain platform, lets you trace the supply chain of more than 200 different products.
Provenance allows you to scan different food products to find out exactly where they come from.
Frustrated by the lack of reliable information about the products we consume, Jessi Baker, a PhD student of Computer Science, decided to develop a solution to help consumers track and trace supply chains and find out exactly where the stuff they buy really comes from.
"Behind every product is a complex chain of people and places and that's a really important part of why people buy things," she explained to the BBC. And while it's information that allows consumers to make better, sustainable purchasing decisions, transparency is an issue in our current system. When it comes to certain products, consumers can feel like they're well-informed about their origins, with a "made in" label on their new jumper or "product of" sticker on their apple. But while consumers are keen to know more (How was it transported? Where any pesticides used? Or, who exactly made my clothes?) that's usually where the information stops. That's where Provenance steps in.
Using blockchain technology, the London-based startup can produce networks and nodes of information that allow a product's supply chain to be tracked and recorded - right from its creation up until the point of sale. In this way, the Provenance system allows producers, certifiers, and retailers, to record information about the different processes involved in bringing it to sale. Once the information is saved in the blockchain, the information can't be changed. In this way, the blockchain makes it possible not only to manage this huge quantity of data but also to assure its reliability, and verify that it's true.
Producers and retailers can benefit hugely from providing reliable information about their products' provenance - attracting new customers and retaining old ones, by building up brand trust. And the system also encourages them to make sustainable choices - by making the social and evironmental impact visible to the general public.
Thanks to Provenance's smart tags and web plug-in, all the consumers has to do is scan a QR code or an NFC-enabled label to find out that product's story. Once the customer has scanned the code, they can log on to the website to check out the information about it: a map of its journey and its full production story: the physical product's digital story. A story of sustainability and transparency.
After a successful six-month pilot project in Indonesia and a collaboration with Co-Op, the UK’s fifth biggest food retailer, Provenance is already tracking the supply chain of more than 200 products. From coffee, organic cotton, tuna, fruits, clothes and handicrafts, to a complete range of organic food.
"Provenance encourages brands to volunteer data about their supply chain. We ask them to prove that data, track it, and they must provide links back to proven materials. We want to showcase the businesses that are really trying to be ethical," the founder told StraitsTime.
The Provenance team is keen to expand its product range, with the dream that one day every product will have a "digital history" that can be traced and verified.
"The ultimate goal of Provenance is that one day it will be impossible to buy a product that compromises your health and morals. Businesses that have very opaque supply chains and are not taking active steps to make them transparent should really fear us," Provenance's founder told the BBC.