A group of Arkansas livestock farmers known as the Grass Roots Farmers’ Cooperative, supported by Heifer USA, is using blockchain technology to trace meat through the supply chain to provide consumers information about the source of their food.
Shoppers and diners will be able to scan QR codes on Grass Roots products to see where the meat came from and how the animals were raised. The “digital history” of the meat will also include stories about the people — from farmer to butcher — who participated in creating the final product.
“Americans have an increasing interest in better understanding what they’re eating,” said Cody Hopkins, Grass Roots general manager and founding member. “According to the 2016 Label Insight Study, 83 percent of consumers want more information about what’s in their food, and I totally believe it.”
Consumer irritation with product labels is at an all-time high, Grass Roots noted on its website. The Label Insights study found that 75% of the people they polled do not trust the accuracy of food labels.
Provenance, a U.K.-based technology company that has provided other food blockchains, developed a platform that allows small farmers to provide consumers information about their food directly to consumers.
Grass Roots noted on its website that food labels are confusing consumers since USDA regulations, that producers are required to follow, are not black and white. Third party certifications like USDA Organic, Non-GMO Project and Animal Welfare Approved authenticate certain standards, but there is no one certification that addresses every consumer’s needs.
Grass Roots provides information about its farms, its animals and its processor, making it easier for consumers to determine if the product meets their needs.
The Grass Roots website allows consumers to build a Grass Roots “meat box” by selecting their favorite GMO-free, antibiotic-free and growth-hormone-free meats. The cooperative then automatically ships the customer’s box to them every 30 days.
Subscribers have the flexibility to edit their recurring order on the website.
In addition to the subscription service, Grass Roots offers one-time purchase bundles. The meats are also available online at two farmers’ markets: Conway Locally Grown and Arkansas Local Food Network.
Restaurants serving the cooperative’s meats are listed on the website.
Pierre Ferrari, Heifer USA’s advisory board chair, said:
Our farmers are innovative, always looking for ways to incorporate the latest technology that ultimately create real value to the consumer. Partnering with Provenance and the Golden Gate Meat Company is another example of how proactive they are in wanting their customers to know where their food originates. It’s only a matter of time before this becomes ‘best practice’ throughout the industry.
Golden Gate Meat Company, a San Francisco-based purveyor of Grass Roots products, was scheduled to begin a trial of this technology on Aug. 2, providing customers the opportunity to use these tools in stores.
Featured image from Shutterstock.