Sheryl Haitana

Food fraud is a $60 billion business globally, four times as valuable as the cocaine and heroin industries combined, Matrex chief executive Paul Ryan says.

Italian mafia, for example, have left drugs behind them and are concentrating on the production of fake olive oil and wine. Alongside this food fraud industry, consumers are becoming more aware of food safety and are trusting big brands and companies less.

Thus, the validity of food has never been more important, he says.

Blockchain technology can store data that can be used to validate the authenticity of food, but that data must be validated by an independent party, he says.

Blockchain does not guarantee food authenticity but it can be used as a digital ledger to record the data. Blockchain enables brands and farmers to get data to consumers and show who has checked the information. It is also a way to provide context around the data, which is what consumers really need to make informed decisions about their food, he says.

Major players such as Nestle and Alibaba are moving quickly into using Blockchain. The technology is becoming viable at a speed and cost that helps provide for reduced friction in cross-border trade.

AsureQuality is dipping its toe into Blockchain and has set up a Blockchain to follow the end-to-end process of selling a NZ honey brand into China.

Consumers in China are asking two questions around food safety, AsureQuality assurance marks manager Pam Whitfield says.

Consumers first ask ‘Can I trust this brand?’ Once they come to know the brand, the second question is ‘Is this an actual product of that brand?’

Using Blockchain technology to follow a product from its beginning to its final place – in the consumer’s hands, is a way to give consumers answers and assurance around individual food items.

“From a consumer perspective, they receive a product, they scan the box, then they open it and scan the product inside. That’s confirming that the item they received is the item we packed,” Pam says.

The consumer then has the option to continue and read about the assurances of the authenticity of that barcode – the blockchain records.

Companies like ANZ and Comvita are initiating work on Blockchains and it’s putting pressure on government organisations and organisations like Asurequality to release their data build on that data.


Mobile technology is now used more than a desktop with the average person looking at their mobile 150 times a day.

“Everyone has a mobile phone and they use them all the time,”Mobile Mentor sales manager Simon Thomas says.

Companies are therefore designing technology to be used from mobile devices, and utilising mobile technology to link with wearables, nearables and invisibles.

Levis and Google have designed smart clothes with inbuilt sensors that would allow you to use mobile technology.

The jean jacket allowed the wearer to swipe on the left cuff to control music, read incoming messages or read out directions.

This technology could transfer easily to work clothes, Simon says.

For example, when a farmer is working they could swipe their overalls and connect to and use their mobile phone to do certain tasks.

“Think of how powerful that is.”

Using mobile technology is going to become even more paramount in the workplace to communicate and log information.

For example, the future of health and safety is to use technology to provide bite-size information rather than expecting people to read an entire folder of protocols and retain that information, Simon says.

Mobile technology can be used to alert a person about certain hazards when they enter a specific area on a farm.

Farmers can also use mobile technology to take photos of weeds – which will create a heat map and show increasing weed problems on a farm – which could one day lead to it triggering a robot to go out and spray the weeds.