Unilever taps into Blockchain to manage Tea Supply Chain


Since the time Blockchain came into existence till date, we hear every day something new about it; whether it is about its features or applications, Blockchain is garnering the attention of some of the big industries. Here I will be highlighting about the latest addition in the series of development in Blockchain and this time it is Unilever that has taken a step ahead to use Blockchain as a part of its supply chain management.

What is Blockchain?

There is hardly a day when you don’t have some new upcoming about Blockchain and its application. We all know that Blockchain is a transparent and safe system for storing and transmitting database. All the information is stored in chronological order and is transparent and visible to all the people in the network.

Unilever is amongst many other companies which are eyeing at this technology to be a powerful source of change in business operations. It has started exploring Blockchain application in tea supply chain. The primary objective behind this is to establish a transparent system of the supply chain.

What makes this technology work?

Transparency, decentralization, and safety are the underpinnings of the Blockchain. These are the features which have made it such a useful technology. It’s because of these features that many companies and nations are trying to sync their operations with Blockchain. Unilever is just one example, companies like IBM are coming up with Blockchain-based solutions that are going to revolutionize the industry.

The functioning of this technology is simple, for any transaction to take place, the user must enter a key to record the transaction data. Once this data is encrypted as a block, it is submitted for verification by different nodes. Once validated, the record gets duplicated across the network servers making it impossible for anyone to alter the data without authorization.

Unilever is making use of this feature to enhance the transparency in the tea supply chain.

A quick view of the Unilever’s project:

The idea behind starting off this pilot project is to provide customer quality and premium products and to gain customer loyalty. Apart from this, the company also wants to cut down on the tracking time which the tea takes from the farmers to the shop.

  • This is going to be a pilot project for one year.
  • It will make use of Blockchain to track tea supply chain.
  • The project involves partnering with banks and technology startups to track tea farmers in Malawi. It is expected to reach around 10,000 farmers.
  • The primary objective of this project is to ensure transparency in the system such that both the consumer and the company know about the origin of tea.

Why is tracking of product so important?

When it comes to supplying chain management then tracing the product is the most daunting task. Companies invest a huge sum of money in this procedure. It is done to ensure that the customer gets the right product and in case of any discrepancy, the company can track down the source of the fault. Although the current system provides all the help, it consumes a lot of time. Whereas when we bring Blockchain in the system, the tracking process reduces the time to a matter of just a few seconds. Well, this is not only on papers rather, but there are also many companies who are using the tracking process in the Blockchain, Wallmart and IBM are the popular names when it comes to Blockchain-based solutions.

As per International Finance Corporation, Wallmart took about a week’s time to trace the package from store to farm. However, with the help of Blockchain, this process took just a few seconds. This is possible because every information in Blockchain is stored in chronological order and you can easily trace down all the information in the click of a button. Since this information is immutable and cannot be altered, thus, it is the safest way to get an authentic insight into the packages and products.

The bottom line-

Unilever is working together with Provenance, a Blockchain based company to start off its Blockchain project for tracking tea supply chain.  Before this, Provenance has done the project on tracking the origin of tuna fish from the fisheries in Indonesia to the final consumer.

The crux of the matter is that Unilever is making a strong attempt towards the use of Blockchain based technology to strengthen its supply chain management. It is not only a step to improve its functioning but also to provide the customer with the best product.

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