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The Traceability of the Food Supply Chain




INTRODUCTION

“Made in Italy” is a trademark globally recognised as quality merchandise mark, eventually indicating a brands legacy between the Italian excellence of fashion, food, design, craftmanship and the entire proprietary national supply chain. Thereby it is clear that “Made in Italy” is a key driver for business growth, playing a fundamental role in the worldwide competition of our Italian small and medium enterprises (SMEs) and thus a brand worth protecting.

In the whole country there are businesses whose aim is to improve and share Italian quality around the world: they must guarantee the trade in products that are entirely made in Italy, i.e., only using Italian raw materials. However, without the possibility of verifying the production process, the consumer can only have faith in the absence of counterfeiting in it. Foodchain is an Italian company that aims at supporting the “Made in Italy” claim with actual data: by simply scanning a QR-code on the product package, the consumer can easily verify every step of its supply chain.

What makes it possible to confidently trace each product from production to logistics and distribution is Quadrans blockchain. In addition to benefits in the brand’s integrity, this blockchain implementation improves efficiency and environmental sustainability with respect to other projects.


QUADRANS BLOCKHAIN

Quadrans blockchain has been developed since 2012 with the purpose to build an inclusive, decentralised and efficient infrastructure to enhance truth of information. In 2018, Quadrans Foundation was formed to guarantee an inclusive and ethical advancement of Quadrans technology.

Quadrans is a public and open source blockchain, thereby anyone can participate in the consensus process and be an active part in the network. One of the main disadvantages in this type of blockchain are the presence of malicious actors. To avoid the potential risks of illegal intentions Quadrans Foundation uses a process named “Know your Costumer” to verify client identity.

Quadrans blockchain is a multifunction platform born from a fork of the open-source software developed by Ethereum Foundation. Even though unique elements have been integrated in the source code, the platform is still based on Ethereum features, e.g., the Ethereum Virtual Machine to run smart contracts.

The crypto Board, with Massimiliano Sala as president, proposes a unique and competitive multilayer architecture which allows an efficient use of resources and a sustainable consensus system, thus reducing the energy requirements, which are typically high in other architectures. The latest version of Quadrans technology was released in February 2021.

Quadrans is a hybrid blockchain that mixes Proof of Stake and Proof of Work as consensus mechanism within a network composed of three levels of nodes:

  • Masternodes dispatch incoming transactions to achieve the network consensus and keep up to date the state of the network. The maximum number of Masternodes that Quadrans network can host is 2.500.

  • Minernodes, at the moment, perform the same function of Masternodes and actively participate to the consensus mechanism. The objective is to support the growth of the network in order to accommodate the improvements to the consensus mechanism described in Quadrans Yellow Paper.

  • Lightnode are nodes of the network that does not perform mining operations. As Quadrans blockchain is open and public, anyone can run a Lightnode and contribute to the expansion of the network, increasing data decentralization and distribution.

The innovative consensus mechanism promotes a non-competitive environment. Indeed, rewards are given by looking at the time spent working on the chain instead of at the number of closed nodes. In this way there is no hardware competition between peer2peer nodes, thus reducing the energy needed to solve computationally intensive work, while preserving high transaction speed.

The multilayer structure runs on two cryptographic elements: Quadrans Tokens and Quadrans Coins, which are functional to minimize the economic impact on the use of the system and to support the formation of a reliable and distributed environment that ensures operational efficiency. Quadrans Tokens (QDT) are used to secure the installation of Masternodes and Minernodes, to upload new Smart Contracts on the Quadrans blockchain and to regulate the distribution of rewards. Tokens are fixed at 600 million and cannot be burnt or mined. Instead, Quadrans Coins (QDC) are the gas for smart contract execution and are used to record information onto Quadrans blockchain. They are designed to reward Token holders for their contribution to the Quadrans ecosystem, so that they are encouraged to perform new transactions, eventually ensuring operational stability within the network.


FOODCHAIN

Foodchain is the first decentralized application that uses Quadrans Blockchain to achieve transparency and integrity in the brand identity. Thanks to IoT (Internet of Things) devices they implement traceability to cover each phase of the supply chain including production, logistics and distribution. Indeed, information sharing between active nodes of the blockchain allows an end-to-end real-time tracking of products, i.e., from the manufacturing of raw materials to the delivery of the final product to the customer. This continue monitoring of the supply chain allows companies to identify non-efficient steps and to confirm their efforts in a sustainable production. Successful examples include production pipelines like Caffè San Domenico and Gruppo T18’s fruit and vegetables.

Recorded data on the blockchain cannot be modified by non-authorized subjects, not even by business themselves, and thus counterfeiting is prevented. Anyway, it is up to each business to decide which data to share with the supply chain’s actors, enabling an easy interconnection of all the involved parts, which can access the information by simply scanning the QR-Code on the products.

A further feature of Foodchain services is legal validity. Actors in the network interact via smart contracts. A smart contract is a piece of code that runs on a decentralized ledger and whose execution automatically binds two or more parties on the base of predefined effects, according to d.l. 135/2018 art. 8-ter definition. Considering the civil law definition, a contract legally binds two parties because of the agreement itself, and not because of the following execution. Therefore, since smart contracts are nothing less than the automatic execution of a predefined agreement they are binding according to the civil definition.

Besides the legal validity of the smart contract, it is also interesting to analyse the validity of the data storage process. Storing data on the blockchain is tantamount to notarize them, making them undeniable, similarly as it happens for the documents signed by a notary: that information exists without any doubt, no trust is needed. Indeed, data on the blockchain are immutable, which means that possible errors cannot be modified, but they can be rectified by creating an historical record of the data.

The notarization of data on the blockchain does not have the same value of data notarized by a notary, yet. Anyway, in February 2019 the minister of economics development organized a task force in collaboration with IBM and other textile reality to understand whether blockchain technology can support made in Italy production to satisfy the traceability needs. Foodchain targets this issue by providing services to make any supply chain transparent, guaranteeing the provenance, quality and value of “Made in Italy” in food and textile sectors, supporting producers by improving management efficiency and quality control, and eventually protecting consumers.


by Chiara Menini

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