Business

Blockchain Technology Adds Transparency to Spain's Olive Oil Industry

The controversial technology behind cryptocurrencies is at the core of a new project driven by IBM and other players in Spain's olive oil sector to guarantee the traceability of extra virgin olive oils.

Jan. 21, 2019
By Rosa Gonzalez-Lamas

Recent News

Galpagro, a pio­neer­ing com­pany focused on high yield olive groves, and IBM Spain have joined forces on an ini­tia­tive that uses blockchain tech­nol­ogy to trace all stages of extra virgin olive oil pro­duc­tion and dis­tri­b­u­tion, from the olive tree to the con­sumer.

This tech­nol­ogy applied to olive oil is a great oppor­tu­nity to give full con­fi­dence to the con­sumer on what type of oil is being pur­chased.- Ricardo Domínguez, Deputy Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Rural Development of Andalusia

The project, Olive Trace, debuted in the 2018/19 har­vest cam­paign at Finca El Valenciano in Seville where some of the estate’s plots will be the foun­da­tion of the first lim­ited pro­duc­tion extra virgin olive oil with a full blockchain trac­ing.

The oil is expected to hit the market this year.

See more: Olive Oil Fraud

Olive oil pro­ducer Oleocano and Rurápolis, a rural devel­op­ment con­sult­ing firm, are also part of the project, which attempts to respond to the grow­ing pres­sures con­sumer orga­ni­za­tions in Spain are impos­ing upon the European Union.

Producers want to con­vince the EU to make the incor­po­ra­tion of detailed infor­ma­tion about the origin of fresh and man­u­fac­tured prod­ucts manda­tory on all prod­uct labels.

Advertisement

This would respond to con­sumers’ increas­ingly obses­sive demands for details about the origin, authen­tic­ity, con­tent and health ben­e­fits of the food prod­ucts they eat, such as olive oil, and even the pro­duc­t’s envi­ron­men­tal friend­li­ness.

“This tech­nol­ogy applied to olive oil is a great oppor­tu­nity to give full con­fi­dence to the con­sumer on what type of oil is being pur­chased,” Ricardo Domínguez, the Deputy Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Rural Development of Andalusia, told Coin Telegraph.

Blockchain is a secure dig­i­tal reg­is­ter that records trans­ac­tions into blocks, which are then copied across com­puter net­works that allow them to be shared. Through an encrypted data plat­form reg­is­tered in an invi­o­lable chain, Olive Trace will pro­vide detailed infor­ma­tion of actors and trans­ac­tions involved in each stage of the extra virgin olive oil pro­duc­tion process.

Advertisement

After scan­ning a QR code, anyone with access to the blockchain will be able to see all the infor­ma­tion about their extra virgin olive oil using an app. This app will allow them to have details about all trans­ac­tions, from har­vest­ing on the olive farm to place­ment on the super­mar­ket shelf, includ­ing the process of cer­ti­fi­ca­tions. This will rein­force users’ trust through enhanced trace­abil­ity.

Now, users will have details about the exact loca­tion where the olive trees are grown, the olive vari­ety, olive press­ing in the mill, oil making, pack­ing and dis­tri­b­u­tion, until the oil reaches national and inter­na­tional con­sumers. Every actor engaged in the pro­duc­tion and sell­ing processes will also be vis­i­ble and trans­par­ent.

Advertisement

The system is, there­fore, inter­est­ing not only to con­sumers, but also olive grow­ers, oil pro­duc­ers, pack­ers and exporters.

IBM has been focus­ing on the food sector to pro­mote projects that incor­po­rate blockchain tech­nol­ogy. In the case of olive oil, blockchain helps to assure its qual­ity, origin, health­i­ness, and also works to avoid oil fraud.

This would also sup­port the pro­duc­tion process making it easier for pro­duc­ers, espe­cially small pro­duc­ers, to opti­mize oper­a­tions and to manage work­load, human resources, stock, logis­tics and costs more effi­ciently and with fewer inter­me­di­aries.

Last May, Spain’s olive sector also saw the launch­ing of Olivacoin, a com­pany that cre­ated a hard­ware to handle price volatil­ity and qual­ity con­trol and pro­vide a pay­ment plat­form for buyers and sell­ers of olive oil, using cryp­tocur­rency based on food blockchain trace­abil­ity.