Australian Farmers to Put 70 Million Sheep on the Blockchain

August 10, 2021, 9:45 AM AEST (updated September 04, 2021)

Australian Wool Innovation Ltd (AWI) has partnered up with the Everledger platform to share the story behind Australia’s world-famous merino wool industry.

Using blockchain technology, the industry aims to reveal the entire supply chain – from farm to fashion – that goes into the “miracle fibre”.

In the digital world, curious consumers are demanding to know more about the products they consume and where they come from, whether or not they are organic and what went into a product for it to end up in our shopping carts.

Concepts like provenance, transparency and sustainability are therefore concerns that need to be addressed. For instance, brands in the fashion industry have come under scrutiny from consumers who are becoming concerned about the sustainability and social and environmental impact of the garments they wear, and companies are needing to provide transparency regarding these issues.

Annually, merino wool contributes A$3.6 billion to the Australian economy and the country accounts for 90 percent of global supply. Merino sheep are renowned for producing some of the softest, finest and most beautiful wool known to the world.

Merino wool. Source: Everledger

Aside from its beauty, merino wool also creates a much lower ecological footprint compared to synthetic fibres. In order to thrive in the global market, the product needs to protect its reputation for quality and authenticity – enter blockchain.

Sharing the Story of Merino Wool

Getting merino wool into the hands of consumers follows a lengthy supply chain: tending, processing, manufacturing, retailing, buying, shipping, retailing again, and exchanging many hands along the way.

AWI is confident in Australian woolgrowers’ practices to abide by best practice production and wants to share this with the world. The organisation, responsible for protecting the livelihood of 22,000 woolgrowers and their 70 million sheep, aims to promote the traceability of global supply chains so consumers and stakeholders alike will understand the full value of their product.

Everledger is a digital transparency company that will use blockchain to help realise AWI’s provenance goals. Peter Hughes, Everledger’s regional head of Australia and New Zealand, explains the aim of the collaboration with AWI:

It is about being able to validate the journey of that material or product in a way that makes sense, both for a commercial customer, who is buying on a large scale, but also a brand that eventually receives that and wants to take that message through to a consumer.

Peter Hughes, Everledger

Everledger will build and host an Electronic Chain of Custody Tool (ECCT) on its platform that “will track and validate the exchange of ownership of selected wools as they move up the supply chain from farm to overseas processing and through to finished products”.

The ultimate goal is “to demonstrate sustainability and compliance best practices, and provide more confidence on the authenticity and provenance of the product”.

Other Industries Embracing Blockchain

The merino wool industry is not the only one to embrace blockchain. Crypto News Australia reported last week that Australia’s native Kakadu plum will be traced using blockchain technology to verify its provenance. Tracking the indigenous food will also aid in combating fraud.

The cotton industry in Israel has also adopted blockchain to trace cotton produced in that country. The Israeli Cotton Board recently partnered up with Australian blockchain authentication platform Security Matters to authenticate the origin of the cotton.

And in the US, DApp startup Eggschain is using blockchain to track sperm. The project will revolutionise the reproductive industry by building a blockchain solution to assist in the in vitro fertilisation process.

By Jana Serfontein, Crypto News Australia Guest Author

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