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Blockchain: case studies in food supply chain visibility

Rogerson, Michael and Parry, Glenn (2020) Blockchain: case studies in food supply chain visibility Supply Chain Management, 25 (5). pp. 601-614.


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This paper investigates how blockchain has moved beyond cryptocurrencies and is being deployed to enhance visibility and trust in supply chains; its limitations, and potential impact.


Qualitative analysis undertaken via case studies drawn from food companies using semi-structured interviews.


Blockchain is demonstrated as an enabler of visibility in supply chains. Applications at scale are most likely for products where the end consumer is prepared to pay the premium currently required to fund the technology, e.g. baby food. Challenges remain in four areas: trust of the technology; human error and fraud at the boundaries; governance; consumer data access and willingness to pay.

Research implications and limitations:

The paper shows that blockchain can be utilised as part of a system generating visibility and trust in supply chains. Research directs academic attention to issues that remain to be addressed. The challenges pertaining to the technology itself we believe to be generalisable; those specific to the food industry may not hold elsewhere.

Practical implications:

From live case studies we provide empirical evidence that blockchain provides visibility of exchanges and reliable data in fully-digitised supply chains. This provides provenance and guards against counterfeit goods. However, firms will need to work to gain consumer buy-in for the technology following repeated past claims of trustworthiness.


This paper provides primary evidence from blockchain use cases ‘in the wild’. The exploratory case studies examine application of blockchain for supply chain visibility.

Item Type: Article
Divisions : Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences > Surrey Business School
Authors :
Rogerson, Michael
Date : 4 May 2020
Funders : Economic and Social Research Council (UK), Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (UK), The British Academy Leverhulme
DOI : 10.1108/SCM-08-2019-0300
Copyright Disclaimer : Copyright 2020 Emerald Publishing Limited
Uncontrolled Keywords : Blockchain for good; Research4good; Blockchain; Supply chains; Supply chain visibility
Depositing User : Diane Maxfield
Date Deposited : 30 Jan 2020 14:45
Last Modified : 25 Jun 2020 13:48

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