Why it Matters
Australian beef producers enjoy a strong reputation globally as safe, clean and green meat suppliers. This reputation has resulted in a lucrative Australian industry (exceeding $13B per annum) with demand for top-quality Australian beef growing at rates beyond supply. Unfortunately, risks of fraud and brand value diminution are high in these conditions and inferior meat is being passed off as Australian in countries including China and Japan. It is critical to prove to customers that meat is top-quality Australian beef and not a product from a country that has had an outbreak of foot and mouth disease. Developing a method to establish food provenance eliminates the chance of misleading consumers as well as protecting the Australian brand and industry.
A team of QUT researchers are protecting Australia’s reputation for world-class beef production by tracking beef from the paddock to the plate using blockchain technology. Whether you are a farmer, a supermarket, a butcher, a restaurateur, a consumer or another interested party, you will be able to access the entire history of the meat electronically by scanning a barcode or QR Code.
This world-first, industry-led project, called BeefLedger, is one of the first projects supported by the QUT-based $200 million Food Agility CRC. Marcus Foth, Professor of Urban Informatics at the QUT Design Lab said BeefLedger is an industry-led interdisciplinary project bringing together design, business, technology and food research. Working with industry partner, BeefLedger Limited, a new digital cryptocurrency called a BEEF Token was launched in December 2017. It was developed as part of the design and implementation of the world’s first application of distributed ledger or blockchain technology to the entire beef supply.
The BEEF Token will power the BeefLedger Blockchain and provide users with the value-added benefits of access to credentialed provenance data, sale history, consumer feedback insights, disease prevention, streamlining payments, and heightened food security. In a world-wide first, it has the potential to revolutionise the industry by limiting price fluctuations, supporting food provenance and preventing food fraud.
Real World Impacts
BeefLedger will provide a fairer and more sustainable supply chain, which is better for everyone – including Australia’s regional communities – over the long run as credentialed food provenance lifts the veil between producers and consumers. BeefLedger establishes the digital platforms and tools to enable the industry and its participants to meet the aspirations and needs of 21st century consumers (in Australia and abroad).
Funding / Grants
- Food Agility CRC $1M oover two years (2018 - 2020)
- Foth, Marcus & McQueenie, John (2019) Creatives in the country? Blockchain and agtech can create unexpected jobs in regional Australia. The Conversation, June(13).
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- Foth, Marcus (2017) The promise of blockchain technology for interaction design. In OzCHI '17: Proceedings of the 29th Australian Conference on Human-Computer Interaction (OZCHI 2017), ACM Digital Library, Brisbane, QLD, pp. 513-517.
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