The Sustainable Shrimp Partnership (SSP) joined the IBM Food Trust ecosystem on May 6 to improve visibility into its shrimp supply chain, identify stakeholders and make operations more traceable from the shrimp farms to consumers’ tables. IBM Food Trust is a platform that specifically caters to global food supply chains, leveraging blockchain technology to provide visibility and foster accountability between key stakeholders through an immutable record of food system data.
The SSP is a syndicate established in Ecuador, which was created to push the shrimp aquaculture industry to adopt more sustainable means of shrimp farming. This includes better social practices, ensuring higher and uniform product quality, and eliminating the use of antibiotics in shrimp cultivation.
Over the last couple of years, the IBM Food Trust has seen considerable success, with several consortiums and large food industry players joining the blockchain network to refine their logistics operations. FreightWaves had an email conversation with Lou Izquierdo, global sales lead at IBM Food Trust, to better understand the partnership between SSP and IBM on shrimp cultivation.
“SSP does an incredible job of providing its downstream supply chain partners with traceability data for its shrimp products. By using Food Trust, its members will be doing so in a more distributed, secure and immutable fashion,” said Izquierdo. “For SSP, being able to prove the authenticity of its shrimp products is critical, as Ecuadorian shrimp is renowned for its superior quality and taste.”
Shrimp cultivation is a business that has found new legs in recent times, especially as production can be micromanaged from within aquaculture farms and are not left to the vagaries of marine fishing. Shrimp demand is further fueled by the rise in demand for protein, which is set to double by 2050 with the population expected to hit 9 billion by then.
Southeast Asian countries have taken particular interest in shrimp aquaculture, but the shrimps that they produce are often of average quality – an end-product resulting from a market that focuses on commoditizing shrimp and rewarding businesses that prioritize quantity over quality.
SSP advocates for a sustainable future of the shrimp industry, with the produce farmed without antibiotics. “It is a premium product recognized throughout the world, and now each batch can prove that quality; which translates to premium price and benefits everyone in the supply chain, all the way back to the farmers,” said Izquierdo.
Pamela Nath, director at SSP, stated that the goal of the consortium was to ensure supermarkets and restaurants sell premium quality shrimp, while consumers are assured visibility to the crustaceans’ farming conditions by scanning the QR codes embedded on shrimp packaging. “We want to ensure consumers have confidence in these commitments by providing complete accountability. We believe traceability is the future of responsible aquaculture, and we are keen to pave the way for others to follow,” she said.
In many ways, the partnership between SSP and IBM Food Trust is a crucial step forward in the seafood industry. Izquierdo explained that fraud prevention, traceability and sustainability were three of the biggest challenges that food supply chains contend with, and blockchain technology can provide a way forward in addressing them all. “We expect that SSP’s supply chain partners – and ultimately end consumers – will benefit tremendously from this important initiative,” he said.