Soil Association

Soil Association Certification has teamed up with tech start-up Provenance to pilot blockchain technology, which tracks the journey of organic food from farm to shop shelf.

From 6 September, shoppers will be able to tap their smartphones on organic products in selected As Nature Intended stores to instantly retrieve the product’s complete supply chain journey.

The scheme uses Near Field Communications (NFC) technology, the same used to tap public transit passes like the Oyster card. This means the information of a product’s journey and exactly what it means to be certified organic will be accessible to shoppers with NFC-enabled smartphones, with no app required.

Linking Provenance’s blockchain design with Soil Association Certification’s databases, a product’s journey enters the blockchain in real time.

Shoppers are able to see information including the certification’s validity, the organic criteria met by the product, a map of its journey, and even photographs from the farm.

Jessi Baker, CEO and founder of Provenance, said: “We're excited to be working with Soil Association Certification to create the world’s first digital certification mark, with key verified data and batches of product stored on the blockchain.

“Provenance exists to help us all be able to shop with confidence knowing we are buying authentic food that matches our values. Our tech brings an easy, secure and trustworthy digital dimension to our food and drinks.”

The pilot between Soil Association Certification and Provenance is a first for certification programmes in the UK. It builds on the findings from research carried out by Soil Association Certification that identified trust and transparency in supply chains as fundamental to future food shopping for consumers.

In the UK, shoppers are starting to make their voices heard around the issue. Some 70 per cent of respondents in a recent Morrison’s survey objected to fake farm labels and eight out of ten respondents to a QA Research study expressed their desire to know which farm system has been used to produce their meat and dairy products.

The pilot will initially apply to packs of Eversfield Organics Roam & Relish bacon, continuing until supplies of the specially tagged products run out. Following these initial trials, Soil Association Certification will look to promote the system to other brands and retailers.