Blockchain Technology for Vanilla Trade Chain: Challenges and Opportunities

Dr. Paul Takhistov
Rutgers University - the State University of New Jersey

New Brunswick, NJ, USA


In recent years, the international vanilla bean market has faced challenges of falling quality, price volatility, and insufficient product traceability. The current crisis of high vanilla bean prices and low quality with the general concerns about social issues like poverty and child labor have created a sense of urgency for the industry. Quality assurance has become increasingly difficult in the growing global supply chain. In particular, the traceability of vanilla beans turns out to be very challenging for all supply chain players with concerns over the verification of food authenticity, e.g. correct declaration of the geographical origin, variety or cultivation, curing, storage, and transportation. Such quality parameters justify higher prices and therefore, they are often the focus of food fraudsters. The vanilla industry is continuously under threat from economically motivated adulteration, early harvesting and mislabeling. The blockchain technology has a strong potential for risk reduction by ensuring traceability of vanilla trade networks since data can be stored in an unmodifiable way, enabling quick tracking across all process and logistic steps so that commodities or semi-finished items can be rapidly identified in terms of state, current location, and origin. In this presentation, we will discuss various types of blockchains and major advantages and disadvantages of this technology, as well as its application to supply chain optimization, logistic tracking, quality assurance, and anti-counterfeiting. Several case studies of blockchain traceability systems by Ambrosus, Unilever/Wall’s, and Nestle for vanilla supply chain will be presented.

Dr. Paul Takhistov is an Associate Professor at the Department of Food Science, Rutgers University and affiliated faculty member of the Departments of Chemical and Biomedical Engineering. His research is focused on novel functional materials for food and health applications including personalized medicine and nutrition, intelligent/smart packaging development for biosecurity and food safety applications in the food supply chain. He is the Director of the Professional Master's degree program in Food Science and Global Food Technology and Innovation. He is a member of the Nanotechnology Advisory committee for the Institute of the Food Technologists, editor of Food Science and Technology Letters and editorial member of Food Biophysics Journal.