SSP developing traceability platform using IBM blockchain technology

Published on
May 7, 2019

The Sustainable Shrimp Partnership, a group of Ecuadorian companies pushing for higher standards and more global marketing for the country’s shrimp sector, has partnered with IBM to create a software platform that uses blockchain technology to create a fully traceable supply chain profile for its premium shrimp products.

The platform will use IBM’s Food Trust blockchain technology to deliver “unprecedented” accountability and transparency to customers and consumers for every element of SSP’s premium shrimp production and journey to the consumer plate, according to SSP Director Pamela Nath.

“Our aim is to have SSP premium-quality shrimp in supermarkets and on menus where the consumer can scan the QR code and find out which farm it is from, how it was farmed, and key indicators on its food safety and sustainability profile,” Nath said. “SSP shrimp is farmed to the highest social and environmental standards, and we want to ensure consumers have confidence in these commitments by providing complete accountability. We believe traceability is the future of responsible aquaculture, and we are keen to pave the way for others to follow.”

The Food Trust platform will offer consumers verification and confirmation that the SSP shrimp they buy and eat contains zero antibiotics and is certified to the standards of the Aquaculture Stewardship Council (ASC), according to Nath. While not included in the platform’s traceability metrics, SSP shrimp farms are also held to higher standards for water quality and labor and social standards. The Food Trust platform, which will be open for access by consumers as well as commercial buyers and retailers, is secure and allows for data to be uploaded and shared without the possibility of alteration.

The SSP advisory board, which includes representatives of the IDH Sustainable Trade Initiative, WWF, and ASC, has provided guidance and support for the project. In addition, SSP has partnered with the non-profit Colombian Institute of Technical Standards and Certification (ICONTEC), which developed sustainability standards for the Colombian coffee industry, to produce validation metrics for SSP’s standards. 

With its high standards and its willingness to invest in initiatives such as the IBM blockchain technology, SSP is challenging the status quo in the global shrimp market, WWF Global Network Lead for Aquaculture Aaron McNevin said.

“When consumers find out that their grocers don’t know where or how their seafood they sell was produced, there will be considerable blowback,” said McNevin, who also serves as a member of the SSP Advisory Board. “What the SSP is attempting is to provide an immutable and incorruptible record of the chain of custody through a blockchain platform. This is the best available security measure to ensure product is segregated in a manner that retains its appropriate identity.” 

Offering consumers access to natural products that meet the highest sustainability standards has been central to SSP’s mission since the organization was founded in 2018, according to Jose Antonio Camposano, the executive director of the National Chamber of Aquaculture of Ecuador and a leader of the Sustainable Shrimp Partnership.

“Food fraud is on the rise. With complex supply systems and a global lack of transparency, we are seeing too many examples of mislabeling and poor-quality products entering the marketplace,” Camposano said. “It’s time we change that. Consumers have a right to know where their food is from and how it was produced. By using blockchain technology we can provide complete traceability on our products and our practices – for the first time, consumers can have complete trust and assurance on what they are buying.”

IBM Latin America Blockchain Executive said his company’s technology will deliver on what SSP is promising consumers.

"Blockchain technology has the potential to transform any industry, especially when we have multi-stakeholder environments, businesses, and organizations such as in supply chain,” Hagelstrom said. “Working with SSP and its ecosystem of suppliers, distributors and more, can help us ease the pain points of the food industry.”

SSP is exhibiting at the 2019 Seafood Expo Global event, taking place in Brussels, Belgium from 7 to 9 May, in Hall 6, at Stand #1068. 

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