First-ever blockchain beef shipment leaves US for Taiwan

Credit: Zeljko Radojko

Technology developed at the University of Wyoming (UW) has enabled the first-ever blockchain shipment of beef with researchers saying the approach could “change the way food is shipped and tracked across the globe”.

The consignment of Wyoming beef was shipped to Taiwan back in December 2018 utilising a blockchain code developed by UW student Kip DeCastro in collaboration with Phillip Schlump of digital supply chain specialist BeefChain.

Based in Wyoming, BeefChain helps the state’s ranchers command more value from their beef by proving that their products are free range and fairly farmed, while also giving consumers assurances that the products are safe.

Rob Jennings, BeefChain’s founder and CEO, says it was the first shipment of beef tracked on blockchain from the United States to Asia.

“The University of Wyoming was integral in making this trial shipment a success,” Jennings says.

“As a combined effort of the Department of Computer Science, and the colleges of Agriculture and Natural Resources, and Business, this project highlighted the strengths of each department and their faculty and graduates.”

The beef was raised at Murraymere Farms in Powell. It was placed in tagged cases with RFID labels and sent to a five-star dining establishment in Taipei, Taiwan.

The labels featured a unique digital identifier that enabled the cases of beef to be tracked along the entire supply chain, from plant processing, export, import and to the restaurant.

The unique achievement can be attributed to the work of UW’s Department of Computer Science, in conjunction with BeefChain, the Wyoming Business Council and Avery Dennison, a global company specialising in adhesive technologies and packaging materials. It provided the radio-frequency identification (RFID) labels.

“RFID is setting the foundations for blockchain integration in the food industry,” Avery Dennison RFID Vice President and General Manager Francisco Melo says.

“Enabling farmers and businesses to guarantee the provenance of a product will mean greater improvements for food safety, product differentiation and enhanced consumer experience.”

Technology breakthroughs have enabled blockchain technology to be used more extensively in the food industry in recent years.

“Partnering with Avery Dennison on this pioneering shipment of Wyoming beef was crucial for BeefChain,” Jennings says.

“Avery’s cutting-edge RFID labels guaranteed our ability to trace the product through the entire supply chain and record the data in our digital ledger.”