From ensuring compliance within slaughterhouses, helping to trace contaminated stock and sustainable tuna fishing, much has been said about blockchain technology’s potential to overhaul the food supply chain. For the Ripe.io, that feat has just become more tangible.
The US-based startup, which calls itself the ‘Blockchain of Food’, has secured $2.4m (£1.84m) in funding from investors including food service company innovation lab Relish Works, and the investor arm of shipping giant Maersk, which recently launched its own global trade supply-chain blockchain solution TradeLens.
Founded just last year by two fintech specialists and formed of a small combination of tech, business, food and supply-chain experts, Ripe.io leverages blockchain to create a “digital bridge” between “every actor” in the food supply chain, from producers, distributors and consumers. That includes the use of IoT (Internet of Things) and sensors to automate agricultural processes and meet market demands; the ability for distributors to track products to provide real-time data on food safety and deliveries; and certified and trusted information made available and accessible to consumers on their food.
“Food supply chain decisions can very clearly be improved through increased focus on data, visibility and transparency, so connecting the value chain in a much more effective way than it is today and make data driven decisions,” Maersk Growth venture partner Peter Jorgensen said.
“This will require that we go back to the start of the supply chain and capture the data with a method of high integrity and reliability, which at the same time delivers authenticity and provenance, whether to validate products being organic, to trace them back in case of call-backs or to give consumers transparency on what is in our food and what has happened to it through the chain.”
In an elevator pitch video for StartLand News last year, Ripe.io co-founder and CEO, Raja Ramachandran, said the use of blockchain allows the company and its partners to “solve big problems in the food industry like food safety, food recalls, transparency with information”.
He added that Ripe.io’s technology means consumers will be able to ask simple questions of their food’s origin, handling, delivery, what it’s made of, and whether it’s safe, nutritious and healthy.
There’s not been a shortage of blockchain projects within the food sector. One of the more high profile saw computing giant IBM team up with nine food companies including Dole, Driscoll’s, Golden State Foods, Nestle, Tyson Foods and Unilever, to ‘further strengthen consumer confidence in the global food system’.
Investment from Maersk, however, suggests confidence that Ripe.io could have what it takes to accelerate this arena’s uptake of the technology.
“As an early stage company, we couldn’t be more excited to have Peter and his team join us on this journey,” Ramachandran said of the backing.
“Having access to Maersk’s global reach, rich history and enthusiasm in our work has been truly humbling. Combined with Mack’s [Relish Works] deep food supply chain expertise and creative problem solving we couldn’t have wished for better investors and partners.”