Atlantic salmon has long been a vital part of Norway’s economy, an industry that generates more than $7 billion annually, according to Statistics Norway. The Scandinavian country of just 5 million people produces 59% of the world’s farmed salmon supply, with Chile a distant second at 19%, according to seafish.org. Eleven of the top 20 largest salmon-producing companies have their headquarters in Norway.
Norwegians take their salmon very seriously. So when someone sells Norwegian salmon that is not really from Norway or farmed salmon as wild salmon, Norwegians take great offense. Mislabeled fish has become a global problem, with research showing that more than 20% of fish is not as advertised—often an inferior, cheaper alternative that is not as healthy, or that can even be dangerous to eat.
That’s a problem EY Skye, a Norway-based SAP partner, wants to fix. The company has developed a blockchain solution that can help minimize risks and ensure that the fish you want is the fish you get. The solution tracks each fish along its supply chain, creating a digital “twin” for each fish, a data point that gives salmon producers, retailers, restaurants, and consumers more confidence in their product.
“It’s important that Norwegian salmon—and all seafood—be traceable from egg to fish to production to consumers,” said Lars Torp, partner at EY Skye. “It’s important to distributors, restaurants, markets and of course customers to be able to trace each fish through a value chain. People won’t buy if they feel misled. It’s a big issue. People will eat more fish and be healthier if they know its story.”
Traceability increases consumer confidence
EY Skye’s solution also addresses another major concern: Farmed fish are more at risk if a toxin or poison is introduced into their environment. A bad batch of fish could have catastrophic consequences to a business—even more so if the supplier can’t identify or isolate exactly where and which fish have been affected.
“They may need to put down all the fish without knowing where the problem is. That’s a lot of trouble because they didn’t mitigate risks,” said Josef Nalbant, SAP country channel manager in Norway. “EY Skye can help customers identify the exact batch and give quicker feedback up and down the supply chain. That will make a big difference.”
As part of its solution, EY Skye created an app that allows consumers to rate their fish on a scale from 1 to 5, “like Uber,” Torp said. That data can be shared using an open public blockchain that suppliers can access and take any necessary action to increase customer satisfaction.
“The more partners that participate in the supply chain, the better it is,” Torp said. “Other solutions have data in silos and there’s no sharing information. We think it’s important to share the data to ensure the integrity of the seafood up and down the supply chain.”
As eggs become fish and fish are cut into filets, for example, it’s noted in a blockchain. “Even if the fish continues on in another product, like a sauce, another digital twin is created,” Torp said.
Some restaurants have implemented small-scale solutions that let customers scan a QR code on the menu for more information about their fish. That’s evidence that both restaurateurs and consumers are interested in the topic, Torp said.
“Those solutions are more marketing than anything else, but when a customer knows this technology exists, they will demand more information,” he said. “That’s why we’re focused on a consumer app too. If pressure comes from the consumer to adopt this technology, businesses are more likely to act.”
More data components, more industries
Future components of the solution will be able to add temperature data to the supply chain, ensuring all parties that the fish are being stored properly.
“If you’re flying fish from China to Japan and it’s an 8-hour flight, you know you’ll need so many kilograms of ice. But what if the plane is delayed? There’s opportunity for huge improvement in this area, and it ties directly into the blockchain,” Torp noted.
Meanwhile, innovations in pallet technology, with embedded sensors in new recyclable plastic pallets instead of traditional wood, can also help accelerate adoption of the EY Skye fish solution—and similar solutions.
“It can work with any supply chain: food, medicine, phones. Anything where temperature is important to the transportation and shelf life of the product. There’s a lot of white space,” Torp said.
EY Skye chose the salmon/fish industry to start because although it’s hundreds of years old, it’s immature when it comes to implementing digital solutions. Torp said, “It’s a really big industry, and they’re very eager to leverage technologies that can help business and the ultimate customers feel better about what they’re eating.”
Top image via The Norwegian Seafood Council