WWF's OpenSC platform aims for better food chain transparency

21 January 2019 Consultancy.com.au 3 min. read

Ever wanted to run a background check on a fish? With the World Wildlife Fund (WFF)’s new tech, consumers can do just that.

OpenSC, a new blockchain-powered platform allows consumers to scan an OpenSC-enabled food product’s QR code to automatically be provided with details regarding where a particular product came from, when and how it was produced, and how it journeyed along the supply chain. The hope is that OpenSC will decrease or eliminate illegal, unethical, or environmentally damaging practices in food production, and help businesses remove products made in such ways from their supply chains. 

“Through OpenSC, we will have a whole new level of transparency about whether the food we eat is contributing to the environmental degradation of habitats and species, as well as social injustice and human rights issues such as slavery. OpenSC will revolutionise how we all buy food and other products as well, enabling more informed decision-making by consumers, businesses, governments, and industry bodies,” Dermot O’Gorman, CEO of WWF-Australia, said in a statement. 

Using OpenSC, companies will digitally tag food products at their points of origin, such as where and when fish are caught. This tag leverages blockchain technology to record the product as it moves through the supply chain. OpenSC can also track and record information such as a food product’s temperature throughout storage and transport.

How OpenSC works

Austral Fisheries, one of Australia’s largest commercial fishing companies, with interests in both deep-sea fishing and sea prawning, has committed to a full implementation of OpenSC across its entire toothfish – a species of cod icefish caught in Antarctic waters – fleet by the end of 2019. Austral Fisheries is part of the Maruha Nichiro Group, the largest seafood company in the world. 

The platform was created by WWF in conjunction with BCG Digital Ventures (BCGDV), the global venturing and digital incubation arm of Boston Consulting Group. This isn’t the first time the two powerhouse organisations have teamed up. In 2015, WWF and BCG worked on a research project which found the ocean produces $2.5 trillion in annual value. 

“We have developed technology that can reliably pinpoint the exact location where each fish was caught and then use machine learning to demonstrate that all of Austral Fisheries’ toothfish was caught in a legal Marine Stewardship Council-certified sustainable fishery,” Paul Hunyor, regional head of BCG Digital Ventures in Asia and co-chair of the World Economic Forum Council on the Future of Consumption, said. The Marine Stewardship Council is the world’s leading sustainable fishery certification program. 

OpenSC’s launch will be celebrated with a meal prepared by celebrated Australian chef Matt Moran. He will cook using Patagonian toothfish tracked by OpenSC.

The platform enters the market at an opportune time. The availability of smart tech in supermarkets, such as that provided by OpenSC, is highly anticipated, especially among millennials. More than two-thirds of consumers aged 24-35 claimed they would be more likely to frequent stores using smart technology to enhance the shopping experience, according to an August study by Hitachi Consulting.