Africa / Middle East

Tunisian Olive Oil Producer Will Use Blockchain Technology to Fight Fraud

Combating food fraud and ensuring authenticity will be an important part of a company’s success moving forward.

Jan. 16, 2020
By Alexandr Mikoulianitch

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CHO, one of the lead­ing olive oil pro­duc­ers in Tunisia, is work­ing with IBM and their blockchain tech­nol­ogy to improve trans­parency and allow con­sumers to track the prod­uct from har­vest to their kitchen shelf.

The way we see it, it would really dou­ble down on that trans­parency fac­tor for our con­sumer,” said Wajih Rekik, the CEO of CHO Amer­ica, which dis­trib­utes the Terra Delyssa brand of olive oil.

When (the con­sumers) scan the bot­tle it will show them the region, where the olives were har­vested, when they were crushed, when the oil was fil­tered, when it was pack­aged, and when it was ana­lyzed for ship­ment.- Wajih Rekik, CEO of CHO Amer­ica

We found that trans­parency was our sec­ond suc­cess fac­tor,” he added. We have tried to cap­i­tal­ize on that but there are not many ways really; there was blockchain [though]. And we thought that was really going to take us to the next level.”

Blockchain is a trans­ac­tion track­ing sys­tem designed to allow busi­ness own­ers, con­sumers or any other entity using the tech­nol­ogy, to effec­tively track any trans­ac­tion or prod­uct from the date of its cre­ation to its final des­ti­na­tion.

See more: Olive Oil Tech­nol­ogy News

Users of the tech­nol­ogy, in this case CHO, record their infor­ma­tion into blocks,” which are then recorded into an online ledger – effec­tively chain­ing them together. Blocks can only be added to the chain, not deleted, thus keep­ing the infor­ma­tion avail­able and secure for review and trans­parency.

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Once we enter all the infor­ma­tion, we can­not change it,” Rekik said. So we are hold­ing our­selves account­able, and that’s really one of the biggest parts of that veil of trust.”

In the case of Terra Delyssa, the tech­nol­ogy will allow buy­ers to scan a QR code that will show them where the bot­tle that is in their hands was pack­aged, when and where the olives that pro­duced its oil were har­vested and when the fin­ished prod­uct was shipped.

When [the con­sumers] scan the bot­tle it will show them the region, where the olives were har­vested, when they were crushed, when the oil was fil­tered, when it was pack­aged and when it was ana­lyzed for ship­ment,” said Rekik.

The qual­ity checks are not only meant for the con­sumers, how­ever. CHO has made a sep­a­rate por­tion of the blockchain data avail­able specif­i­cally to dis­trib­u­tors that will show all the afore­men­tioned infor­ma­tion as well as pro­vide access to the actual cer­tifi­cate of analy­sis,” accord­ing to Rekik.

Blockchain tech­nol­ogy is a dif­fi­cult process to put into prac­tice, espe­cially when there are many dif­fer­ent steps to track. When har­vest­ing olives and mak­ing them into olive oil, the track­ing of so many dis­tinct steps was a red flag for some providers of the tech­nol­ogy.

Some providers (of blockchain) made it sound like it is not going to hap­pen in this decade; it is so com­pli­cated that an olive oil pro­ducer can­not imple­ment it,” Rekik said. IBM man­aged really to make it easy.”

The entire process cre­ates eight total check­points that the blockchain will record: when the olives were picked, crushed, milled, and fil­tered; and once the oil has been ana­lyzed before stor­age, the date of stor­age, when it is bot­tled, and the analy­sis after bot­tling.

Rekik hopes that, in the future, CHO will be able to pro­vide all this infor­ma­tion to promi­nent dis­trib­u­tors, such as Whole Foods or Tar­get, where the cus­tomer will be able to see it while pur­chas­ing their prod­uct.

The move shows the olive oil industry’s grow­ing aware­ness that food fraud, olive oil adul­ter­ation and a brand’s han­dling of the two issues, will be an impor­tant part of a company’s suc­cess mov­ing for­ward.

I do not want to be the one endors­ing that the olive indus­try is full of adul­ter­ation,” Rekik said. I can only acknowl­edge that there is a big neg­a­tive media atten­tion around it… and we believe that this is going to be the way to go, this will be the future; you’re going to have to show the con­sumer where you did it, and how you did it.”





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