Tracking the Story of Your Stuff With Provenance

Provenance allows you to scan different food products to find out exactly where they come from.

Provenance, a blockchain platform, lets you trace the supply chain of more than 200 different products.

Autor*in Ana Galán Herranz, 11.28.17

Provenance, a blockchain platform, lets you trace the supply chain of more than 200 different products.

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.

For more information, check out the video below.

GiveTrack: Tracking Your Charity Donations on the Blockchain

The nonprofit BitGive is developing a platform that allows you to make donations in bitcoin and trace your money all the way from your wallet to the charity project.

Blockchain: A Digital System For Real World Sustainability

It's been called "one of the most important scientific achievements of the last 100 years" and "the distributed trust network that the Internet always needed and never had." So, what exactly is blockchain technology and how does it work?

How SolarCoin Is Adding Extra Value to Solar Energy Generation

As well as helping to save the planet through reducing pollution and combatting climate change, thanks to SolarCoin, producing renewable energy can now also generate currency.

Rent, Swap and Share Your Stuff Securely With

Ownership is so last century. The new startup wants to make it easier for people to share their assets in a direct, autonomous and secure way - by integrating blockchain into the sharing economy.

Never Read Another Food Label Again! This App Wants to Do the Work for You

Is that apple really organic? What is actually in that face cream? The new "HawkSpex mobile" app from the Fraunhofer Institute uses the existing technology inside your smartphone to check the credentials of all kinds of different products.

From Harvest To Checkout: How Fresh.Land Is Revolutionising The Way Supermarkets Work

How long does it take for an apple to go from orchard to shopping basket? Too long, according to the B2B startup Fresh.Land. They want to fast-track the process by setting up direct digital supply chains between farmers and supermarkets.