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Using Big Data analysis, Internet of Things and

Blockchain technology to build a fresh food supply

chain traceability system

Mahir Ashef Roll: 1503074

Department of Computer Science and Engineering

Rajshahi University of Engineering and Technology

Email: ashef.ruet15@gmail.com Debashis Gupta Roll: 1503073

Department of Computer Science and Engineering

Rajshahi University of Engineering and Technology

Email: debashisguptapapai@gmail.com

Abstract—For the past few years, food safety and wastage

has become an outstanding problem for the world[1]. Since

traditional fresh food logistics pattern cannot match the

demands of the market any more, building an fresh food supply

chain traceability system is becoming more and more urgent.[2]

In this paper, we will -(a) Review the concepts of supply

chain management and traceability in Fresh food. (b)Review

the advantages and technological challenges of implementing

Data analysis, Internet of things and Blockchain as standalone

technologies in the supply chain. (c) Highlight the prospects of

using Data analysis, Internet of Things and Blockchain together

as a sustainable system in the supply chain. Finally, we will

discuss the working process of a hypothetical supply chain

implementing system.Through the traceability with trusted

information in the entire fresh food supply chain, which would

effectively guarantee the food safety and mitigated wastage, by

gathering, transferring and sharing the authentic data of fresh

food in production, processing, warehousing, distribution and

selling links.

keywords Fresh food; Supply Chain; Traceability; Big Data;

Internet of Things; Blockchain


The aim of this paper is to discuss the possibility of

improvement of the existing traceability technology in modern

fresh food supply chain. The specific objectives are to show

lacking in the current traceability in agribusiness and to discuss

the implementation possibilities and prospects of using Data

analysis, Internet of Things and Blockchain together in the

food supply chains from farm to plate. Where the current status

causes food wastage that we can not afford. Finn [3] argues

that an urgent switch is needed to reduce food waste globally

on the grounds that we cannot afford to waste 30% to 50% of

our food nor can we afford the environmental consequences of

it. He supports that institutions, corporations and consumers

must unite efforts on behalf of their responsibility to feed

nine billion people by 2050. Furthermore, Securing states that

research should not merely observe and explain the empirical

phenomena but aim to help change the status quo [4]. This

may serve as a step toward that responsibility.

A. Definition and Concept of Fresh food Supply Chain and


Various definitions of a supply chain have been offered in

the past several years as the concept has gained popularity.

The APICS Dictionary describes the supply chain as:

1the processes from the initial raw materials to the ultimate

consumption of the finished product linking across supplieruser

companies; and

2the functions within and outside a company that enable the

value chain to make products and provide services to the

customer (Cox et al., 1995)

The Supply Chain Council (1997) uses the definition: ”The

supply chain – a term increasingly used by logistics professionals

– encompasses every effort involved in producing

and delivering a final product, from the supplier’s supplier to

the customer’s customer. Four basic processes – plan, source,

make, deliver – broadly define these efforts, which include

managing supply and demand, sourcing raw materials and

parts, manufacturing and assembly, warehousing and inventory

tracking, order entry and order management, distribution

across all channels, and delivery to the customer.[5]

ISO 9001:2000 defines traceability as the ”ability to trace

the history, application or location of that which is under

consideration” . The traceability management requires many

operations that can be divided in two macro activities:

1.external traceability: which is the ability to follow the

path of a specific unit along the production chain, forward

and backward,[5] this macro ability can be divided in micro


a. business-to-business traceability, i.e., information exchange

in the production chain from a business to the next one;

b. business-to-customer traceability, i.e., the management of

the information transfer from the retailer to the final customer;

c. whole chain traceability, i.e., the management of the information

about the whole path of a commodity,from the producer

to the final customer.

2.internal traceability, which is the ability to correctly follow

the whole path of a specific unit within the company.


The tracing system currently being used are basically distributed

or centralised computer based systems.[6] So, in a

stretch, supply chain of fresh food means the system in which

the produce travels the whole system, form the farmer to the

consumer. And Traceability is the system that can monitor

each unit or batch of the produce within the system and

backtrack or front track at any given moment if needed. The

current systems use the above mentioned technologies in them

but not all of them together as a system.The separate uses in

traceability will be discussed first than a system containgin all

three technologies will be explained with a test case schenario.

1) Technological Implications of Traceable Agricultural

Supply Chains and current state: Farmers, processors, marketers,

handlers, consumers, governments and the general

public have stakeholder interests in the safety and costeffectiveness

of global agri-food supply chains. implementation

of traceable agricultural supply chains means technological

innovations for product identification, process and

environmental characterization, information capture, analysis,

storage and transmission, as well as overall system

integration. This may include – a.Product identification

technology, b.Quality and safety measurement technology,

c.Genetic analysis technology, d.Environmental monitoring

technology, e.Developments in geospatial science and technology,

f.Software technology for traceability system integration

etc.[7] There are currently available traceability systems that

are used in different sectors such as live stock. Automation

and mechatronics has enabled huge steps forward in its

production efficiency, quality improvements and sustainability.

For example, global crop yield increased by 77% between

1961–2007 [8] and the total greenhouse gas emissions of

the primary production has been reduced by 23.8% in the

period 1990–2012 [9]. But this improvements were mainly

accomplished by non-Internet technologies, such as mechanization

of field operations, breeding new varieties, and more

environment-friendly cultivation techniques. Yet, the sector has

to drastically increase productivity to feed the growing world

population and to satisfy their changing food demands. This

must be accomplished while at the same time agriculture is

facing huge challenges in dealing with climate change, becoming

more resource efficient and creating a circular economy,

reducing waste, guaranteeing food safety and contributing to

a healthy lifestyle of consumers. Though many systems have

tried to implement Internet of Things or Data analysis or

Even Blockchain a supply chain that implements all the three

technologies as a system may increase the efficiency. And that

will be reviewed in this paper.

B. Definition and Concept of Big Data Analysis, Internet of

Things and Blockchain regarding fresh food supply chain

1) Definition and Concept of Big Data Analysis in Supply

Chain Management: Oracle [10] contends that big data is

the derivation of value from traditional relational database

driven business decision making, augmented with new sources

of unstructured data. Such new sources include blogs, social

media, sensor networks, image data and other forms of data

which vary in size, structure, format and other factors. The

usability of Big data analytic is in the process of examining

large and varied data sets uncover unknown patterns, hidden

correlations, market trends, customer choices and other information

that can help organizations make more-informed

business decisions.

Opportunities in Big data are at rudimentary, sophisticated and

advanced levels. At rudimentary level, Ingested Data can be

analyzed in real time. At sophisticated level, high resolution

of spatial maps of soil moisture can direct. And at Advanced

level, Remote sensed data coupled with measurements supports.

However there are few challenges like lack of Data

Scientists for analyzing the data, Mismatch in scale, precision

and accuracy of data, data to be quality controlled before used

in algorithm, interpreting the processed data.[11]

2) Definition and Concept of Internet of Things in Supply

Chain Management: Internet of Things refers to the networked

interconnection of everyday objects, which are often equipped

with ubiquitous intelligence. Internet of Things will increase

the ubiquity of the Internet by integrating every object for

interaction via embedded systems, which leads to a highly

distributed network of devices communicating with human

beings as well as other devices. Thanks to rapid advances in

underlying technologies, Internet of Things is opening tremendous

opportunities for a large number of novel applications

that promise to improve the quality of our lives.[12]

for small- and medium sized companies representing the

majority in farming as well as parts in the food chain.

A particular Internet of Things empowered app might be

enough to help solving a very particular problem. Apps

could help to process or interpret data and make suggestions

or give advice. For example: sensors in the field are

measuring the condition of the soil and consolidate this

data in an app that is also predicting rain. As a consequence,

the farmer is advised against spraying his field that

day. elaborate usage can help in the sectors such as Precision

Agriculture,Tracking and Tracing,Food Processing and

Manufacturing,Consumer Food Awareness,Data-Driven Farming,

Circular Economy/Green Farming and Food,Autonomous

Farm Operations,Outcome-based Agricultural Services,Urban

Farming,Virtual Food Chains,Personalised Nutrition etc.[13]

3) Definition and Concept of Blockchain in Supply Chain

Management: A blockchain is essentially a distributed

database of records, or public ledger of all transactions or

digital events that have been executed and shared among

participating parties. Each transaction in the public ledger is

verified by consensus of a majority of the participants in the

system. Once entered, information can never be erased. The

blockchain contains a certain and verifiable record of every

single transaction ever made. To use a basic analogy, it is

easier to steal a cookie from a cookie jar, kept in a secluded

place, than stealing the cookie from a cookie jar kept in a

market place, being observed by thousands of people. [14]

In the agri-industry billions of products being manufactured

everyday globally, through complex supply chains that extend

to all parts of the world. However, there is very little know

ledge of how , when and where these products were originated,

manufactured, and used through their life cycle. in almost

every case these journeys from the producer to the consumer


remain an unseen dimension of our possessions.[15] The consumers

and end users are often unaware of the various crisis

involved with the production of goods. Supply chain visibility

is a key business challenge, with most companies having little

or no information on their own second and third tier suppliers.

End to end supply chain transparency and visibility can help

model the flow of products from raw materials to manufacturing,

testing, and finished goods, enabling new kinds of analytics

for operations, risk and sustainability.[16]Transparency

enables one to understand the effects and consequences of a

decision on a product and furthers understanding of environmental

circumstances.An proposed application of blockchain

in supply chain for manufacturing systems comprises of a decentralized

distributed system that uses blockchain(s)to collect,

store and manage key product information of each product

throughout its life cycle. This creates a secure, shared record

of exchange for each product along with specific product

information. As a product moves through its life cycle, it

is possessed by a variety of actors, for example, producers,

suppliers, manufacturers, distributors, retailers and finally the

end consumer. Each of these actors play an important part

in this system, logging in key information about the product

and its current status on to the blockchain network. Each

product would have a unique digital profile containing all

related information, populated during various life cycle stages.

Thus creating a transparent and visible supply chain.[17] And

in Fresh food industry a system like this creates a trust in the

consumer about the produce they consume. About its origin,

quality and attributes which are key points of concern of

modern consumers

C. Using Big Data analysis, Internet of Things and Blockchain

technology together in a self sustaining system

As stand alone technologies Big Data analysis, Internet of

Things and Blockchain have proved that they can help improve

the current supply chain standards to ensure the consumer

satisfaction along with profits for producers and other parties

involved in the chain. But together they can form a self sustainable

system that can move gradually mitigate cost, reduce risk

factors and increase profit by predicting demand and creating

consumer trust. The system starting at the core of the chain

which is the farm will include Internet of Things to monitor

farming procedure to mitigate risks such as pre-cultivation,

use of harmful chemicals etc. Blockchain technology will start

logging the data in the chain. After reaping the produce IoT

will follow the produce through its journey from the retailers,

distributors, transporters, storage facilities, suppliers and other

actors of the chain. The sensors will collect data and feed

the Blockchain log. Which will ensure the quality of the

produce through the whole procedure. This will create the

sense of trust on the produce from the consumers side as the

consumer will be able to trace everything about the produce

from the start. In casr of Fresh food everthing from the type

of seeds used to amount of fertilizers and pesticides used,

storage time, packing details and other information such as

GMO and other concerns can be satisfied. Next in the system

when the consumer buys the system will collect meta data

about the sell of the produce such as- season, place, time and

others which when analyzed can lead to pattern recognition

such as peoples preference based on location, season of the

year etc. This will help get accurate predictions for production

to meet the demand that has yet not been created. And as the

whole system cycle continues it will get precise in each step.

Interms removing wastage of food, imbalance between supply

and demand eventually removing the need for storage.

1) Test Case Scenario: Imagine the journey of a sack of

potato from the farm to the fork using the proposped system.

The journey starts by selecting a bag of quality seeds of

potatoes. They are then sowed in the farmland. Through the

cultivation process irrigation, use of fertilizer and pesticides

will be monitored and notified via the use of Internet of Things

technologies. Preventing over usage or lack of any of those

procedures. In the mean time Block Chain Technology will

log all the data from what day the potatoes were sown, what

species they are to what kind of fertilizers were used. Creating

a transparency that means none can use unwanted chemicals

or preservatives without everyone else knowing. After the

potatoes were ready for reaping they were transferred to a

warehouse for storing and after a time to the processing plants

or places where they will be batched together to be sent to

different places. In this phase Blockchain can make sure that

the potatoes are not stored longer than they are supposed to.

Internet of Things and Big Data Analysis will help determine

quickest routes to destination and other aspects to reduce cost

in the process. Then in the shop of the retailers the consumers

have access to all the information they can want. Where the

produce was harvested, if its GMO or not, Is it organic or

not. All the information that the consumers can trust thanks

to the Blockchain Technology. After the consumers buy the

produce their data is also logged into the system which in term

helps data analysis to predict demand among the consumers.

This makes it easy to close the gap between the demand and

supply. And as the cycle of the system continues each time

the predictions get more accurate based on more data. Finally

taking the traceability system to a self sustaining state.


Using the technologies together in a system rather than

standalone standards will allow the creation of a self sustaining

supply chain where Big Data Analysis will predict

the demand of produce, probability of calamities or other

risk factors properly to mitigate wastage. Where Internet of

things will ensure proper treatment of produce from production

to warehousing stage, which will ensure quality and remove

chances of adulteration or other concerns of the consumers.

And Blockchain in the end will ensure the consumers about

the quality of the produce they acquire creating a trust on

the system. It will therefore ensure a preventative quality and

safety management tool. The traceability management system

will allows for trace-back to the original producer as well

trace-forward to individual consumers and indeed any step

in the supply chain, for effective identification of products

and management of recall when quality and safety standards

are breached. From a consumer perspective, traceability will


in terms help build trust, peace of mind, and increase confidence

in the food system. For the grower and post harvest

operators, traceability will work as part of an overall costeffective

quality management system that can also assist in

continuous improvement and minimization of the impact of

safety hazards through rapid determination and isolation of

sources of hazards./citerefninteen


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