Why blockchain technology will steer food trucks in new directions
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One of the most important factors of running a successful food truck, many would agree, is technology savviness. Studies on the growth of the gourmet food truck point to social media as an important tool since it enables customers to keep track of their favorite food trucks.
Another technology that has been slower to evolve but could have equally significant impact on food trucks — and possibly more in the long term — is blockchain, an electronic ledger on which data is recorded and shared.
Many Food Truck Operator readers may not have heard of blockchain technology, but most have probably heard of bitcoin and cryptocurrency — digital currencies transferred over the internet. Blockchain technology provides the software architecture which enables cryptocurrency. And while the jury is still out on the success of cryptocurrency, blockchain technology has many other business applications, including some that are used in running a food truck.
No industry should be ignoring blockchain technology. Major financial institutions and technology companies such as IBM, Goldman Sachs, Barclays and Citi have invested heavily in blockchain projects.
Biggest impact to date: payments
To date, the technology has had its greatest impact in the payments arena. Thousands of merchants, including a growing number of food trucks, accept bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies as payments.
One technology entrepreneur, Nizar Lavji, has even created a food app called Fudi that will offer a blockchain payment token called FudiToken to allow food trucks and other foodservice providers to give customers a convenient way to pay for their purchases, along with new ways for food trucks and other foodservice providers to promote their offerings.
Bradley Cooper, editor of Blockchain Tech News, a Kiosk Marketplace sister publication, doesn't expect blockchain-based payments to make inroads quickly since demand is currently not strong — mostly due to the price volatility of cryptocurrencies.
But Cooper does see blockchain technology being applied in ways other than payments. The technology has a variety of business uses, such as record keeping, accounting, supply chain management, voting, regulatory compliance, marketing and advertising — most of which have potential application in the food industry.
Biggest potential: supply chain
Cooper sees supply chain management as the most common business use for blockchain technology at the present time, noting that it is already being deployed to support supply chains in the food industry.
"Blockchain is currently being used to track materials across the supply chain," Cooper said. "So a company can tell where something was produced, who made it, where it went, etc." This can help ensure compliance with regulations and verify that companies get their products from sources that meet industry-specific requirements.
As a shared, secure record of exchange, a blockchain allows anyone with access to its electronic ledger to track what went into a product and who handled it along the supply chain. This transparency will impact all sorts of products, but it is especially relevant to food supply chains, given the geographic expansion of these supply chains in recent years. This transparency gives processors, wholesalers, distributors, restaurateurs, food trucks and consumers information about where their food comes from, how it was processed and a full accounting of its movement.
Blockchain technology has already been used to track fish from a trawler to a retail store to help prevent human rights abuses in the fishing industry and to fight illegal fishing.
Several large companies, such as Walmart, have used blockchain technology for their supply chain management and quality control, said Angel Versetti, CEO of Ambrosus, a blockchain based IoT network providing supply chain solutions for the food industry in addition to other industries. Ambrosus is one of several blockchain projects working to improve the food supply chain.
FoodCoin Ecosystem is a new blockchain project designed to create a global marketplace of food and agricultural products on a platform serving farms, according to its website. With 700 farmers currently in the FoodCoin network, the company plans to introduce its own currency, called FoodCoin, which farmers can accept for payments.
Consider automotive application
Blockchain technology could also help food truck operators access automotive information more efficiently.
"Currently, many automotive dealers such as BMW, Ford, General Motors and Renault have partnered to look at how they can use blockchain in the automotive sector," Cooper said. "They are looking at how they can use it to record and manage data on cars and share it amongst each other. This type of system could be connected to vehicle sensors as well, which could produce an unimaginable quantity of useful data on car safety and usage."
Other business use cases are being explored.
Ernst & Young, the global accounting firm, and Equidata Technologies AG, a technology provider, have partnered on a solution to integrate blockchain technology with enterprise resource planning systems, which businesses use to manage a variety of tasks. The shared-ledger solution will enable all parties within an enterprise to access reliable data on events and enable more targeted production plans. The partners said the solution will result in better verifiability of goods flow, optimization of stock and improved supply chain response to changes in orders.
Considering that food trucks utilize a wide range of business functions and oftentimes interact with various organizational networks, it's a good bet that blockchain technology will find several applications.
For more information, follow Blockchain Tech News at https://www.blockchaintechnews.com/
Elliot Maras is the editor of KioskMarketplace.com and FoodTruckOperator.com.