Blockchain to reduce Food Waste

Detailed overview of innovation with sample startups and prominent university research

What it is

Blockchain for food traceability and transparency involves using blockchain technology to create a secure, transparent, and immutable record of a food products journey through the supply chain. This digital ledger records every step in the process, from origin and production to processing leftovers and preventing food from going bad.

Impact on climate action

Blockchain for Food Traceability and Transparency under Reducing Food Waste enhances climate action by minimizing food loss and emissions throughout the supply chain. By providing immutable records of food origins and movements, this innovation improves inventory management, reduces waste, and promotes sustainable consumption, contributing to a more efficient and resilient food system.


  • Decentralized Ledger: Blockchain is a decentralized digital ledger that records transactions across multiple computers. This distributed nature makes it resistant to tampering and ensures data integrity.

  • Immutability: Once data is recorded on the blockchain, it cannot be altered or deleted, creating an auditable and tamperproof history of the foods journey.

  • Transparency: All stakeholders in the supply chain can access the data recorded on the blockchain, providing a shared and transparent view of the products journey.

  • Smart Contracts: These selfexecuting contracts, embedded in the blockchain, can automate processes, such as payments and quality control checks, based on predefined conditions.

TRL : 7-8

Prominent Innovation themes

  • IoT Integration: Integrating blockchain with IoT sensors enables the automatic recording of realtime data on environmental conditions (temperature, humidity, etc.) throughout the supply chain, enhancing food safety and quality monitoring.

  • Supply Chain Analytics: Blockchain data can be analyzed to identify inefficiencies, optimize logistics, and improve the overall sustainability of the food supply chain.

  • Consumer Engagement Platforms: Blockchain can empower consumers with detailed information about the origin, production methods, and sustainability practices of their food, enabling them to make informed purchasing decisions.

  • Traceability for Food Safety and Recall Management: In the event of a food safety issue, blockchain can quickly trace the source of the problem, facilitating targeted and efficient product recalls.

Sample Global Startups and Companies

  1. IBM Food Trust:
    • Technology Enhancement: IBM Food Trust leverages blockchain technology to provide end-to-end traceability and transparency in the food supply chain. Their platform allows food producers, suppliers, retailers, and consumers to track the journey of food products from farm to fork, ensuring food safety, quality, and authenticity.
    • Uniqueness: IBM Food Trust distinguishes itself through its use of blockchain technology, which enables immutable, transparent, and tamper-proof records of food transactions. By digitizing and securely storing food-related data on a blockchain network, IBM Food Trust facilitates real-time visibility into the food supply chain, enabling faster identification and resolution of food safety issues.
    • End-User Segments: IBM Food Trust caters to a broad range of stakeholders in the food industry, including farmers, producers, distributors, retailers, regulators, and consumers. Their platform is particularly beneficial for ensuring compliance with food safety regulations, reducing food waste, mitigating food fraud, and enhancing consumer trust in food products.
  2. Provenance:
    • Technology Enhancement: Provenance utilizes blockchain technology to provide transparent and traceable supply chains for food and other consumer goods. Their platform enables businesses to track the origins, journey, and sustainability credentials of products, empowering consumers to make informed purchasing decisions.
    • Uniqueness: Provenance stands out for its focus on sustainability and social impact. In addition to traceability, their platform allows businesses to showcase the ethical and environmental attributes of their products, such as fair trade practices, organic certification, and carbon footprint reduction efforts. By leveraging blockchain technology, Provenance helps businesses build trust and credibility with consumers who prioritize sustainability and ethical sourcing.
    • End-User Segments: Provenance serves a wide range of industries, including food and beverage, fashion, beauty, and electronics, where supply chain transparency and sustainability are increasingly important factors influencing consumer purchasing decisions. Their platform is particularly valuable for businesses seeking to differentiate their products based on ethical and environmental considerations.
  3. TE-Food:
    • Technology Enhancement: TE-Food specializes in providing blockchain-based solutions for food traceability and supply chain management. Their platform enables end-to-end visibility into the food supply chain, from farm to table, by digitizing and securely recording data related to food production, processing, transportation, and distribution.
    • Uniqueness: TE-Food differentiates itself through its focus on addressing the specific challenges of emerging markets and developing countries. By leveraging blockchain technology and mobile applications, their platform enables smallholder farmers, food producers, and local authorities to collaborate more effectively, improve food safety standards, and access global markets.
    • End-User Segments: TE-Food primarily targets stakeholders in emerging markets and developing countries, where issues such as food fraud, supply chain inefficiencies, and lack of transparency pose significant challenges to food safety and security. Their platform is designed to empower local communities, enhance consumer trust, and create economic opportunities for small-scale producers in regions with limited resources and infrastructure.

Sample Research At Top-Tier Universities

  1. Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT):
    • Research Focus: MIT is at the forefront of research on Blockchain for Food Traceability and Transparency, focusing on leveraging blockchain technology, Internet of Things (IoT), and data analytics to enhance the traceability, integrity, and sustainability of food supply chains.
    • Uniqueness: Their research involves the development of blockchain-based platforms for recording and verifying food-related transactions, from farm to fork, in a decentralized and immutable manner. They also explore the integration of smart sensors, QR codes, and digital twins to capture real-time data on food quality, safety, and provenance, enabling stakeholders to track the journey of food products and identify potential points of contamination or spoilage.
    • End-use Applications: The outcomes of their work have applications across various sectors, including agriculture, food processing, distribution, and retail. By implementing blockchain-enabled traceability systems, MIT’s research contributes to reducing food waste, preventing fraud, and ensuring compliance with food safety regulations, thereby enhancing consumer trust and promoting sustainable consumption practices.
  2. Stanford University:
    • Research Focus: Stanford University conducts pioneering research on Blockchain for Food Traceability and Transparency, leveraging its expertise in computer science, cryptography, and supply chain management to address the challenges of food fraud, counterfeiting, and waste in global food supply chains.
    • Uniqueness: Their research encompasses the development of secure and scalable blockchain protocols for tracking and verifying the authenticity of food products throughout the supply chain. They also investigate novel approaches for incentivizing data sharing and collaboration among stakeholders, such as farmers, processors, distributors, and retailers, to improve transparency and accountability in the food system.
    • End-use Applications: The outcomes of their work find applications in premium food markets, organic certification programs, and specialty food products, where provenance, quality, and sustainability are critical factors for consumer purchasing decisions. By implementing blockchain-based traceability solutions, Stanford’s research aims to reduce food waste, enhance supply chain resilience, and foster a more equitable and transparent food ecosystem.
  3. Wageningen University & Research:
    • Research Focus: Wageningen University & Research is engaged in innovative research on Blockchain for Food Traceability and Transparency, focusing on developing interoperable blockchain platforms, data standards, and governance frameworks to enable seamless information exchange and collaboration among stakeholders in the food value chain.
    • Uniqueness: Their research involves the integration of blockchain technology with emerging digital tools, such as satellite imagery, remote sensing, and geospatial analytics, to enhance the granularity and accuracy of food traceability data. They also explore the use of smart contracts and tokenization mechanisms to automate transactions, enforce agreements, and incentivize sustainable practices in food production and distribution.
    • End-use Applications: The outcomes of their work have applications in organic farming, fair trade certification, and specialty crop markets, where supply chain transparency and integrity are essential for maintaining consumer trust and brand reputation. By advancing blockchain-enabled traceability solutions, Wageningen’s research supports efforts to reduce food waste, combat food fraud, and promote ethical sourcing practices in the global food system.

commercial_img Commercial Implementation

Blockchain for food traceability is being implemented by a growing number of companies across the food industry:

  • Food producers: Using blockchain to track their products from farm to processing and ensure the authenticity and quality of their ingredients.

  • Food distributors: Implementing blockchain to improve logistics, track shipments, and ensure the integrity of the cold chain.

  • Retailers: Utilizing blockchain to provide consumers with transparent information about the origin and journey of their food products.