Dairy co-op experiments with blockchain to improve supply transparency

'Blockchain technology ... can really help increase trust and confidence about food production from start to finish'

US agri co-op Dairy Farmers of America (DFA) has announced a pilot project to test blockchain capabilities to improve food supply.

The co-op – owned by farmers across 48 states – has partnered with Finnish food tech startup ripe.io on the project. DFA says it hopes to increase supply chain transparency and “better connect our farmer owners with customers”.

“Consumers today want to know where their food comes from and blockchain technology, like ripe.io, gives consumers real-time data, which can really help increase trust and confidence about food production from start to finish,” said David Darr, vice president sustainability and member services at DFA.

The pilot project collects data from a group of DFA member farms as well as one of DFA’s manufacturing plants to support more consumer engagement through the ripe.io platform.

“We know there’s a lot of application for blockchain technology within agriculture, and we ultimately want to help our dairy farmers be on the forefront,” added Mr Darr. “For now, our goal is to evaluate the technology and explore how it might benefit our supply chain.”

Recently, ripe.io completed the 2018 Sprint Accelerator programme, which is also sponsored by DFA. The accelerator is a 90-day, immersive programme that helps accelerate and grow startup businesses.

“We’ve led and participated in many other pilot projects and know there are tremendous possibilities with blockchain and agriculture,” said Raja Ramachandran, chief executive of ripe.io. “DFA has been a great partner for us, and we look forward to working with them to better understand the potential value blockchain can provide for dairy.”

DFA – owned by member farmers of 48 states, whose net income amounted to US$127.4 m dollars in 2017, while its net sales exceeded $14,000m. In 2017, the cooperative directed the commercialisation of 64,400 million pounds of milk, which represents approximately 30% of US milk production.

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