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Let's talk about blockchain. How this new technology can really add value to yours

"Times are a change".

If Bob Dylan had only known how prophetic these words would become when he sang them in 1964. Maybe he did, but it is likely that no one in 1964 could imagine what is happening now with technology in the beef industry.

If it is true, it is sometimes difficult in 2018 to predict what is happening now with the technology in the beef sector. So prepare your brain to do a lot of prosthetics and bypass, because … well, the times are "achangin".

Get blockchain technology, for example. Not so long ago, it was the competence of some computer nerds who traded with each other using cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin. It is now announced by some in the beef sector as the next technological breakthrough that will add value to livestock and beef.

Isaac Olvera is one of these people. He is a market analyst with Informa Economics IEG of Memphis, Tennessee, who has examined the impact that blockchain technology could have on you and your business.

This impact could be significant.

First of all, here is a brief explanation of what blockchain technology is. "In its simplest form, and at the risk of oversimplification, blockchain technology is a way for users to transfer unique information on a network of individuals, known as nodes, in such a way as to be considered safe and transparent for all parties", He says.

"Also, since the transactions are not hosted in a single position, each transaction is validated, verified between the parties and then combined with other transactions within the" chain "to create a new" block "of data for a ledger that is permanent and unalterable for every good. "

For agriculture, the blockchain brings a level of transparency to all segments of the supply chain that makes the ability to respond to any food problem almost instantaneous. Walmart provides a perfect example.

"Walmart has worked with IBM to manage some of the most comprehensive pilot projects, tracking mangoes in the United States and pigs in China through a master blockchain book," says Olvera. "Traceability tests on mangoes using the current traceability have been reported in 6 days, 18 hours and 26 minutes to track the fruits of the farm of origin.

"With the blockchain technology, the traceback was only 2.2 seconds, which essentially created a true farm-to-fork tracking process, or ranch-to-rail, which is both timely and reliable."

What does it mean for consumers … and you

"Consumer studies have shown that while consumers want to be more connected to their food, conventional tactics do not do proper work to keep them informed," says Olvera. With 96% of Americans shopping online, but still spending around 65% of their shopping-related budgets, 37% say they would pay more for the same good for a better mobile shopping experience. Now consider that 56% of millennials look for products while in the store.

"From here, it's no wonder that it is estimated that 94% of consumers say they would be more likely to be true to a brand that offers transparency," says Olvera.

Here's how it works in the beef sector. An Australian company, BeefLedger, Ltd., paved the way for one of the first blockchain-based beef supply chain platforms. Use the BeefLedger token supported by the Ethereum cryptocurrency. The premise is the traceability and transparency in which everyone, from the producer to the consumer, can access the entire history of the meat.

According to Olvera, tokens were issued and smart contracts were signed that offer simplified payments between the parties and are considered ready for export. The first shipment of Wagyu / Black Angus beef is expected to ship to China sometime in the fourth quarter of 2018.

Then there is Provence, a UK-based startup that has implemented its blockchain version in the United States. Olvera says that Provence is working with three small operations in Arkansas, one of which is a meat company. "Provence offers an analysable QR code that will tell the story of the product from the farm to the table." This not only creates trust in the product, but in the society that produces it.

According to Olvera, the most common form of blockchain agriculture could be the non-public or authorized blockchain.

"Through an authorized blockchain, participants must have approved access, with each participant covering a pre-established role that comes with a limited-role implementation," he says. For example, every segment of the bovine-calf-calf company, stacker, feeder, packer, retailer-would have a block in the chain. Each could buy and sell to others and information could be passed back and forth across the chain.

Blockchain technology is new to the beef industry and it is difficult to estimate a timing when it will become a major part of the marketing process. But there is no doubt that it will.

And this could help you get better prices for your livestock.

"From 2011 to 2016, the consumption of beef in China grew by 20%, while pork consumption rose only by 8% and the consumption of broilers decreased by 5% in the same period of The overall outlook for beef consumption in China in 2018 and beyond has increased by almost 2% year-on-year, which is likely to be supported by double-digit growth in beef imports from South American suppliers and Australia, with the United States increasing to China, are not integrated into the IAB forecasts of Informa Economics, "says Olvera.

"With the production of beef in the United States a further increase of 3% is forecast in 2018 and an estimate between 1% and 2% in 2019 and in 2020, the increase in diversification of destinations of export remains essential to support overall prices in the face of increased supplies ".

Will the blockchain help US beef producers sell more beef in China? Probably so. The traceability and transparency that blockchain technologies offer have been one of the main obstacles in creating a stronger market for US beef in China. "Access to a growing Chinese middle-class market could further stimulate export growth, thereby sustaining cutout and livestock prices during the continuous expansion of the herds," says Olvera.

"Technological innovations such as, but not necessarily, blockchain must be kept at the forefront of the livestock and meat industry, with appropriate communications throughout the supply chain, keeping all moving parts in the same direction," he says. Olvera.

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