Australia is a dominant player in the global beef market, with over 45,000 cattle producers across the country, according to data from public research authority Meat & Livestock Australia. From 2016-2017, Australia's cattle farmers produced more than 2 million tons of beef and veal. In fact, the country is the third-largest beef exporter in the world behind India and Brazil.
Considering Australia's healthy beef industry, it's unsurprising that groups are turning to blockchain technology to potentially bolster the product's supply chain. Blockchain-based supply chain solutions are abundant, from cannabis and diamonds to pharmaceuticals and wine. However, meat – including the various safety concerns inherent to the product's production and distribution – is a prime industry to research the intersection of blockchain tech and supply chain performance.
National Transport Insurance (NTI), a prominent provider of truck and transport insurance in the country, is joining the blockchain crowd through its participation in a supply chain trial with BeefLedger, an Australian blockchain-based provenance, security, and payments platform. Taking place this month, the trial will trace "the paddock-to-plate journey of premium Australian beef abroad," from South Australia to New South Wales (for processing) and then to Shanghai (for consumption).
Overall, the trial seeks "to boost food safety, improve animal welfare, and monitor export security for Australian beef." Indeed, the BeefLedger team maintains that its platform features "a diverse range of technologies" that can lead to more robust security and credentialing.
NTI's CEO, Tony Clark, expressed hearty enthusiasm for the initiative. "We're excited by the prospects this presents across several streams of Australian industry: agriculture, animal welfare, transport, and logistics," he said. "While it's early stages, we're optimistic of the outcomes and learning, and what it potentially means for Australian suppliers, exporters, and consumers."
Moreover, there has been a craving for imported beef throughout Asia, according to BeefLedger chairman Warwick Powell. He noted that Chinese consumers are concerned with animal welfare, authenticity, and provenance. With more beef products exported to Asia, it makes sense to improve Australia's supply chain performance, especially considering the potential for counterfeiting.
Stateside, a project like BeefLedger exists in the form of BeefChain, a Wyoming-based organization on a mission to develop a "rancher-centric" beef supply chain. The state's governor, Mark Gordon, has shown support for the blockchain initiative.