Leading the way with blockchain

JuicyChain is a traceable and transparent way for companies to demonstrate their commitment to sustainability and for consumers to be reassured that the juice they are drinking is sustainable and safe. With one scan of a QR code, they can see when and where the fruit was picked, pressed, bottled and purchased. They can see that it was produced fairly, without harm to the environment and with as few resources as possible.
Next level industry responsibility
This transparency is why Eckes-Granini and Refresco, supported by the IDH Sustainable Trade Initiative, initiated the blockchain-based JuicyChain project. The expectation is that it will accelerate the uptake of sustainable juice volumes and enhance consumer understanding of the origin and journey of sustainable juice.
Since launching in April 2019, the priority has been developing the technical functionality with Open Food Chain and actively looking for new industry partners to get involved. This has led to ten players signing up, all of whom are now onboarded, connected to the blockchain and ready to share data to the network.
“These ten companies include the biggest orange and apple juice producers who are all eager to produce sustainably produced juice,” says Minna Lyijynen, Head of Sustainability at Refresco. “So, the fact that they have bought into the whole transparency story before we are even on the market, really validates the strength of our vision.”
The focus now is to add QR codes to the packaging so that consumers can scan the label and explore the product story for themselves. Eckes-Granini has selected a few own brand factories and is onboarding the relevant suppliers to get this done. Similarly, Refresco is engaging with customers and suppliers to identify and bring a live JuicyChain to the market in 2023.
Priorities ahead
The original plan was of course to be live sooner, but nobody could not have predicted the crises of COVID-19, the Ukrainian war and rising inflation which have slowed businesses down. What’s important now is to deliver an end-to-end success story, and we anticipate that companies will have more time and resources for this in 2023. But what does success actually entail? Beyond having the technology in place, it requires a compelling multi-channel communication campaign that will trigger the consumer to scan the packaging. Television, social media, radio, point of sale and print all have a role to play and participating companies will need sufficient budget and resources to prioritize and facilitate this.
Storytelling critical to success
Storytelling will be critical to success and partly explains why Eckes-Granini has identified a juice drink in Scandinavia for its first product line in JuicyChain. Heikki Hirvonen, Procurement Director at Eckes-Granini explains more:
“Scandinavians care about the provenance of products and are already mature when it comes to sustainability. We can build on that interest to create momentum and to further educate consumers about the standards and certification schemes that go into making a sustainable juice.”
Beyond 2023
Longer term, the aim is to get more suppliers onto the platform, increasing the number of product lines in JuicyChain and creating a buzz around the quality and the opportunities that blockchain-based traceability brings. Adding the retailers and the farmers will then make it truly end-to-end.
Heikki and Minna are convinced it’s just a matter of time before this happens. The juice industry wants transparency and the regulators do too. And once the consumer weighs in, it will be impossible for any brand or retailer to block.
“So, it’s not a matter of if, but when, and those first mover companies who are already participating voluntarily, will be winners in the long run,” believes Heikki.
One step at a time
The possibilities to expand are endless because the blockchain allows you to add all manner of immutable proofs. You could for instance add in a chain on the transparency of packaging. Or record not only when a batch of apples had been delivered, but how many of these had been rejected from the batch.
Most important to Heikki is to keep it simple at the start and take it step by step. “Blockchain is the latest technology and it’s exciting how our industry is leveraging the tech to bring the story of sustainability to the consumer. Yet it starts with going live and showing others the benefit of joining the movement too.