Chocolate is one the most consumed luxury foods worldwide. In western European countries the per capita consumption reaches almost 10 kg/year. Consumers, more and more concerned about food safety, today want to be informed about all the processes in the food supply chain. And for the cocoa market they make no exception. Plus, being an exclusive product, chocolate is evaluated also according to additional characteristics other than safety, like origin, cultivar, and sustainability. According to a Qualtrics consumer research conducted for Barry Callebaut in Europe, 61% of consumers want to know more about where their chocolate confectionery comes from and what’s in it.
The challenges to fulfil consumers’ expectations are more than one. First, the production of chocolate requires several post-harvest processes, from fermentation, drying, roasting, and grinding of cocoa beans, until the mixing of ingredients, conching, and tempering. Then there is the issue related to the complexity of the cocoa supply chain. In fact, it involves several actors and each stage (production of raw material, processing, and distribution) is separated by long distances. In addition, the poor governance in most of the cocoa-producing regions complicates the guarantee of traceability and jeopardize transparency. At last, extensive cocoa farming practices are causing deforestation, with consequent loss of biodiversity.
A way industries and governments could enhance consumer trust towards the chocolate market is to adopt a traceability system able to follow the path of cocoa from farm to confectionery, certifying genuineness and guaranteeing cultivars and agronomic sustainability. The end-to-end technology developed by Authena can implement it, registering and delivering all this information till the end users. Having been applied to multiple Agriculture and Food frameworks, this plug & play solution is able to integrate even the most complex B2B setups. Excluding easy-to-clone tools like QR codes, the key of Authena technology is to combine the security and transparency of a blockchain system together with the safety of IoT hardware elements that provide products with a double physical and digital protection.
The adoption of this technology will have a positive impact for the whole sector. End users would be able to interact with products and to make secured informed choices. The product IoT tag in fact, through a simple smartphone, could grant instant access to detailed info on the chocolate ingredients, certifications, authenticity, and traceability along the supply chain. Producers would be able to differentiate from competitors, increase brand loyalty and access to unprecedented market and customers analytics. As a matter of fact, they would be provided with a powerful dashboard to monitor in real time the entire product value chain. Finally, in accordance with the UN Sustainable Development Goals, society as a whole would benefit from the reduction of counterfeiting and frauds, which subsidize criminal activities and reduces governments’ tax collection.
Alessandro Tacconelli Beckett, S. T. 2008. The science of chocolate. 2nd ed., 39–79. Cambridge, UK: Royal Society of Chemistry.