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Bumble Bee uses blockchain to track tuna

Imagine picking up a package of yellowfin tuna in the grocery store freezer and suddenly knowing the entire story of who caught the fish, where, when, and the journey that fish took from the ocean to your table. Imagine no more because Bumble Bee Foods, which has dipped its toe into the traceability waters before, has added blockchain to the mix providing a much deeper dive into its fish tales.

Bumble Bee is the first food company to incorporate SAP Cloud Platform blockchain-as-a-service into its production. The technology gives consumers details about how their food is sourced by using a smart phone to scan a QR code on the package’s label. The information collected in the cloud also helps the manufacturer to keep track of everything that happens along the supply chain, thereby safeguarding the freshness of the food to prevent recalls, illness and infections.

Bumble Bee’s first application of SAP blockchain technology is on its frozen tuna brand Natural Blue by Anova, which is “Fair Trade Certified,” meaning the products ensure that the fishermen working in the waters of the Western Central Pacific Ocean always get a fair deal. With the snap of a code, the blockchain technology provides instant information about the fish-to-market journey, including the size of the catch, point of capture and the fishing community that caught it, as well as valuable insights to verify authenticity, freshness, safety, fair trade fishing certification and sustainability.

“With SAP, we have the ability to track fish the moment it’s caught and as it travels around the world, telling the story of each tuna while positively impacting ecosystems and the lives of the people all the way down the line,” said Bumble Bee CIO Tony Costa in a statement. “Bumble Bee has long been an industry leader in tracing its seafood products, and the addition of SAP’s blockchain technology allows us to further elevate our efforts in complete transparency with consumers and customers, providing assurance that their fish is fresh and it’s been sourced fairly according to our commitments to the International Seafood Sustainability Foundation.”

It also ensures it is the “right” fish. According to an Oceana nationwide study, “seafood may be mislabeled as often as 26 to 87 percent of the time for commonly swapped fish such as grouper, cod and snapper, disguising fish that are less desirable, cheaper or more readily available….It is unknown exactly where in the supply chain seafood fraud actually takes place. With an increasingly complex and obscure seafood supply chain, it is difficult to identify if fraud is occurring on the boat, during processing, at the retail counter or somewhere along the way.”

With the SAP blockchain technology, companies can store data and create a tamper-proof supply chain history that can be shared and seen by each participant. For Bumble Bee, blockchain is the safest possible way to share data between parties because it is incorruptible and verifiable.

Once the fishermen bring their catch in, it is sent to a Bumble Bee receiving plant in Indonesia and scanned for the first step of capturing information about how and where the fish was caught. The information is stored in the cloud and enters a secure blockchain. The fish is then moved to a seafood inspection plant where the food is tested for safety. The fish then goes through the finishing goods plant. All of the data collected is fed up to the blockchain cloud platform making it available to retailers, restaurants and consumers. Information is also available to select suppliers in the supply chain.

“This solution is an example of how blockchains can be used to revolutionize the future of food,” said Oliver Betz, global head and senior vice president of SAP Innovative Business Solutions, part of SAP Digital Business Services “It creates transparency and traceability across the food supply chain, from the ocean, across the cold chain, to the warehouse, store and our table. When we help enterprises like Bumble Bee to make innovation real, we support the consumer’s need to know and reinforce their faith in the brands they trust.”

For a more detailed account of how this works, follow the story of Indonesian fisherman Jafar in this video: