Automated Compliance in Agrifood Chains through Blockchain

This project aims to support automated compliance monitoring through blockchain-enabled digital solutions.

Buyers and consumers in agrifood chains want to be assured that food and fresh products are correctly labelled (e.g., origin, certification), have had proper treatments and are of a proper quality. Due to globalised food networks, direct inspection by buyers and consumers is infeasible and insufficient. National and European legislation define quality rules that products and supply chains need to meet and this requires continuous checking of compliance throughout the supply chain. Currently, most compliance checks are done manually on a sample-by-sample basis, or are done by many different parties, each keeping its own records. This is time-consuming, expensive and prone to error and fraud. Novel ICT technologies such as blockchain technology could be used to monitor the processes in an automatic, continuous and objective way. Blockchains have unique characteristics of security, immutability of the records, distributed trust, decentralized governance, and the potential for automated transactions using smart contracts. Wageningen Research (WR) and TNO have previously explored managing food certification across the table grapes supply chain on a blockchain. This proposed project will build and extend this earlier work in a practical industry focussed manner.

In particular, it seeks to address the technological (architecture and interoperability) and organisational challenges (business models and governance) in:

1) data definition, acquisition, verification and sharing.

2) automated monitoring of compliance to legislation and certification, including business confidentiality/GDPR.

3) automated compliance checks during transactions, potentially using smart contracts to ensure automatic compliance to legislation and certification rules.


The key innovation of the proposed project is to use blockchain technology to help digitalise, determine integrity, and automate the compliance of food and flowers to food safety, trade and export, social and environmental standards and requirements and make administrative and trade and export processes more efficient.

Impact on the sector, science and society

Expected impact on the sector:

a) clearer guidelines and lower costs to start with a new technology.

b) improved digitalisation, international usage of standard blockchain data definitions for more efficient and reliable business transactions, and automation that results in better sector performance and competitiveness.

Expected impact on science:

a) improved understanding and methodology in monitoring food quality across food chains.

b) improved understanding and methodology concerning the use of semantic standards and rules to represent legislation and certification for automated data processing.

c) improved understanding and methodology in using blockchain technology while ensuring the balance between transparency and business confidentiality and between accountability and legal requirements such as GDPR.

Expected impact on society:

a) improved food safety and sustainability.

b) improved food integrity and trust in food chains.

c) more participation by consumers/society on integer developments in food systems.