IBM blockchain technology for traceability of the Norwegian seafood supply chain

Leading Norwegian seafood producers, including BioMar, turn to blockchain for help in using technology to provide high-quality, fully traceable products.

IBM blockchain technology for traceability of the Norwegian seafood supply chain
June 29, 2020

A new cross-industry collaboration between Atea, IBM and Sjømatbedriftene, the Norwegian Seafood Association, will use blockchain technology to share supply chain data throughout Norway's seafood industry to provide safer, better seafood to consumers worldwide.

Several Norwegian seafood companies are now in the process of putting data into the network. One of these companies, Kvarøy Arctic, will soon begin delivering products to leading retailers in the United States and Canada using the tracking and provenance technology. BioMar has also joined the network allowing Nordic seafood companies to provide insight into the origin and quality of seafood as well as the quality of feed the fish consume.

“It is important for our customers to know that the seafood they eat is not only safe but produced sustainably and healthily,” said Alf-Gøran Knutsen, CEO of Kvarøy Arctic. “Blockchain lets us share the fish's journey from the ocean to the store. This is now more timely than ever, as consumers want more information about where the food they eat comes from.”

Norwegian seafood is known for its quality and the country exported more than 2.7 million tons of seafood in 2019, the equivalent of 25,000 meals per minute. At the same time, monitoring where the fish comes from, its growing and storage conditions, and reducing food waste remains of critical concern to seafood consumers who care deeply about sustainability.

Robert Eriksson, CEO of the Norwegian Seafood Association, believes that the technology will be of great significance going forward and that it will increase the competitive edge of the industry. “Norwegian seafood is known for its quality. Yet we still cannot trace where the fish came from, how it was grown or how it was stored. This creates the potential for fraud and food waste. Blockchain can help eliminate these problems with a transparent, accountable record of where each fish came from. We believe that this is only the start of something that will mean a great deal for the industry by creating more sustainable food production, which in turn will increase the return for producers,” Eriksson stated.

Blockchain technology can help seafood producers create a "single version of the truth" about supply chain events, allowing consumers to trace their seafood products directly back to the source and enabling producers to tell stories about the products, where they come from and how to prepare them. The private blockchain network records data about catch location and time, supply chain events like shipping updates and customs clearance, and even temperature, which can then be shared with permissioned parties.

According to a recent IBM study, 71% of consumers indicate that traceability is important to them and that they are willing to pay a premium for brands that provide it. Customers are also demanding more documentation about the food they eat. This new blockchain-based network will allow customers in-store to know the fjord where the fish is from, when it was fished, the feed it has eaten and whether the facility uses sustainable methods. Customs agencies will be able to more easily access data about the volume and location of shipments to expedite customs clearance. By sharing all this information across the supply chain, seafood producers who invest in quality will also be able to charge a premium, increasing pay for the people who catch your fish.

The blockchain network uses IBM Blockchain Transparent Supply, an innovative offering from IBM using the underlying technology behind Food Trust. It enables organizations and consortia to rapidly build out their own sustainable blockchain-based ecosystem for improved supply chain operations across numerous industries. IBM Blockchain Transparent Supply promotes transparency and collaboration, allowing networks to manage their own membership, securely share documents and create a permanent record of the history and lifecycle of physical and digital assets.

“Blockchain is about enhancing flexibility and transparency, and IBM Blockchain Transparent Supply provides just that to clients who are interested in rapidly launching their own blockchain network with ecosystem partners, and using their own branding,” said IBM Food Trust general manager, Raj Rao. “This powerful technology gives network members the option to develop their own governance and determine how and what information is shared.”