Blockchain could revolutionise agricultural food sector

By Mirjam Minderman | November 22, 2018 | 2 min read

Rudi Martins, full-time MBA student at TIAS School for Business and Society, interviewed Marieke de Ruyter de Wildt, founder of Dutch tech company The Fork, for a study project. The Fork wants to make blockchain technology more common in the agri-food sector. The main goal is to ‘regain trust in our food.’

Blockchain is a real ‘buzzword’: everybody talks about it, and the media write about it. It looks like it’s the Holy Grail; a solution for everything. Yet far from everyone understands what blockchain really is. In addition, blockchain is still in its infancy. That’s where The Fork comes in.

The tech company makes farmers familiar with blockchain technology, and identifies where it can be used to increase efficiency and cut costs. De Ruyter de Wildt believes that blockchain is able to revolutionise the agri-food sector. 

From data to more efficiency and transparency
De Ruyter de Wildt has already been working with digitalizing processes at farms for more than 15 years. She is enthusiastic about blockchain because ‘its characteristics are totally new in technology’. At the moment, companies sell technical applications to organisations which, most of the time, replace existing systems or are an addition to them. She suggests another approach, where blockchain solutions are integrated with the current applications of a company..  

It sounds complicated, but in fact it’s all about data: a blockchain is just a chain of information and references. In the food industry this means that all data of a product – from the producers, transporters and traders – will come in one overview. This will enormously increase the transparency about where our food comes from and what has been done to it,’ says De Ruyter de Wildt. That’s exactly the mission of The Fork: to make the food industry more honest, which means eliminating fraud from the food supply chains.

De Ruyter de Wildt explains that direct communication is now possible between producers and consumers. The technology enables small players in the agricultural food sector to access profits that were once controlled by big corporations.

Moreover, by increasing the efficiency and transparency in food chains, blockchain will help to reduce food waste and will stimulate changes in consumer behavior, because consumers can easily see where and how their food has been produced.

Hackathon event
The Fork serves as an accelerator between knowledge institutes and businesses: ‘We make research available for business, and business available for research’ says De Ruyter de Wildt.Last April, the team of The Fork included a food-related table at the biggest blockchain hackathon in the world in Groningen. This was another step towards The Fork's ultimate goal: to make good food accessible and affordable for everybody. 

TIAS MBA students interview sustainable entrepreneurs for AIM2Flourish

The interview of TIAS MBA student Rudi Martins with Marieke de Ruyter de Wildt about her company The Fork is part of a study project in which business and society perfectly come together. The students who participate in the study project have to get in touch with companies that contribute to the UN Sustainable Development Goals. They interview the founders and/or directors of these organisations – wherever in the world they may be – and then write articles about them.

The stories are published on the site AIM2Flourish.com, an international platform supported by the UN. All articles on this platform are about profitable companies that have a positive impact on human wellbeing and a healthy world. In this way, AIM2Flourish is supporting the shift to a Business for Good mindset. You’ll find a lot of inspiring business stories there, including from the TIAS students.


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