Blockchain for Wine Industry – How can the Distributed Ledger Technology transform it?
“Like fine wine”- an adage we use quite often in our day to day lives. The older the wine, the better, they say. Whatever the day and age may be, wine will always be something that is consumed with great pleasure, joy and happiness. Connoisseurs swear by their skill of identifying the wine by a mere sip, thus, it only makes sense to do everything we can to preserve the legacy that the wine industry holds.
In recent days, however, the wine industry has had itself a bit shaken up. Frauds and scandals have surfaced, many of which were never thought to be possible. In the search for a safer industry, where collectors could never get their hands on a fake wine bottle ever again, one of the most recent developments in technology, the blockchain, has made its way to the wine industry. Using the blockchain to manage supply chain and tracking of wine bottles is considered to be the next step in the fight against counterfeit wine bottles.
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The issues with the wine industry
The Rudy Kurniawan investigation, a wine scam that shook the entire United States of America, was one of the prime examples of problems with the wine industry. He was imprisoned in 2013 for selling millions upon millions of dollars in fake vintage wine bottles. A great palate, and a respect for the taste that he was recreating helped him pull off this huge scam, leaving thousands of people biting the dust.
As is clear from the above case, counterfeiting is one of the biggest problems with the wine industry. Fake vintage bottles are being sold to inexperienced individuals everywhere, with not many wine connoisseurs existing to help people out with their wine. Frauds and tricksters like Rudy Kurniawan have been selling people fake bottles of wine, with no legitimate method to determine whether the bottle is real or not.
Inventory management is another issue with the wine industry. Even though it is not as big of an issue as counterfeiting, it still calls for better, more efficient and effective methods to improve the process. The true costs of growing grapes and making wine and depletion rates of wine into the market are important characteristics to know if you want to make sound inventory decisions. This not only helps in management of fixed capital, but also helps manage the working capital and cash flow, to help in keeping budgets on track.
With all these problems affecting the wine industry in ways never even imagined before, it is time to introduce something that acts as the saving grace for this holy liquid. It is probably time to introduce the best and newest brand that technology has to offer, and use it to make the whole wine experience better.
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Blockchain, as made famous by the ever-popular Bitcoin, is a distributed ledger technology aimed at decentralizing networks and the way data is stored. The nature of the technology is such that it makes tracking and recording all transactions that occur on the network a very easy job. Blockchain has already found many use cases in the fintech sector, and the supply chain management sector.
Similar to the use cases in the supply chain and inventory management sector, another one can be created for the wine industry. Up until now, there has been no sure shot way to report a wine bottle as authentic. As we read, a person as skilled as Rudy Kurniawan could easily recreate a similar tasting wine and sell a fake for a vintage one. Another problem with counterfeit bottles is that even when they are identified as fake, vendors resell them and they are put right back into the supply chain.
Blockchain, due to its immutable and verification properties, can help wine sellers and buyers to keep track of wines at a bottle level. Up until now, even though wineries want to keep track of individual bottles, they have not been doing so, limited by technology and the sheer amount of work it would take. With the introduction of the blockchain in wine industry, every bottle can be put on the blockchain network. Layering physical bottle data, images, barcode, origins and other essential details into a blockchain based network will enable any wine buyer to make only verified, legitimate purchases.
Every time he or she wants to make a purchase, simply scanning a code on the bottle will present him or her with the required information about the wine. This makes it incredibly easy to avoid purchasing counterfeit bottles, since all the information about a bottle can be displayed on the screen in an instant. Information will be updated on the blockchain once each bottle of wine is sold.
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Now that we know the blockchain can theoretically help, are there any practical proofs?
Yes, there are.
A few blockchain projects have already made their way into the wine industry, and are being successfully used to tackle all aforementioned problems. Let us look at a few of the most popular projects.
A brainchild of Maureen Downey and Everledger, the Chai vault is perhaps one of the first popular wine verification systems in practice. With its characteristics being described as layered, immutable, timeless and transferable, the Chai vault is the only blockchain system that enables producers to see where each bottle is going, when it is entering the grey or black market, and so forth. It aims at changing the way wines and spirits are traded, by empowering both consumers and producers.
A blockchain technology firm based in London, Everledger has recently become the first organization to secure the provenance of a wine bottle using the blockchain. They make use of the Chai vault, and the first bottle to be secured was a 2001 Margaux. Founder Leanne Kemp has been closely working with Downey on how to innovate and expand this technology.
The wine industry promises to no longer be the entangled mess that it is. With the introduction of blockchain and single bottle tracking, tackling counterfeiting and performing effective inventory management becomes infinitely easier. As the Chai vault and Everledger have shown, the blockchain presents itself to be a very innovative and effective use case in the wine industry. Only time will tell how this concept pans out to other sections of the wine industry.
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Blockchain technology is going to have a big impact on wine industry. Not only this, when it comes to food safety and tracking its supply chain, blockchain technology has the potential to transform it from ground-up. Are you looking to build a product that uses blockchain to solve problems like we discussed above? Feel free to get in touch with us. Our pool of incredible blockchain developers and solution architects are here to help you out. Over the last couple of years, we have worked on a number of products based on blockchain. Whether you’re just in the ideation phase or trying to make a proof-of-concept, we can sure help you out.