Blockchain set to transform supply chain and bring more transparency than ever for consumers


Have you ever bought what you thought was honey, but it turned out to be fake honey? According to the EU, Honey is amongst the top 10 foods that are the most at risk of food fraud. It is easier and cheaper for industrialists to sell us ‘fake honey’ made of sugar and syrup than real honey. We, as consumers, have very little way of knowing the truth between products. We can look at ingredients and labels, but sometimes they can be misleading. What if I tell you that there is a transparent and trustworthy way of knowing exactly where the products you buy come from? And this since the first steps of the supply chain? Let me introduce you to Atma!

Atma is a project developed by Avery Dennison, a world leader in labeling and packaging. It is a connected cloud platform built using the blockchain with the aim of revolutionizing the relation between the supply chain process and consumers by bringing more transparency than ever. They plan to associate each product of every company in the world with a digital ID that lets people track, store and manage all the events associated with each product — all the way from source to consumer. Atma allows to even track raw material and have the full genealogy of the product. From sustainability to marketing and consumer protection, the Atma cloud product can be used to promote the non-fraudulent products, will help fight against food frauds and abuse and ultimately protect consumers by giving them the transparency they need. View Atma as a one-stop-shop where everyone can access every step of the product’s supply chain with utmost transparency and accuracy. To add to the sustainability aspect, every item can be tracked and measured to assess its carbon-footprint.

How does Atma work and guarantee transparency?

Public blockchains are well known for their ability to be fully transparent, traceable and immutable. Indeed, unless consensus is achieved, no one can change the rules or try to attack the network. Through cryptography and consensus mechanisms, once a data is registered on the ledger, it cannot be changed, and everyone can access it at any time. The longer a data stays on the blockchain as blocks are being added one by one, the less likely it is for the data to be altered should the blockchain be attacked. Blockchain is the solution to bring transparency to consumers without having to trust a centralized authority that could be compromised and alter the data. By trusting cryptographic proofs instead, consumers can be reassured as for the integrity of the data being registered. 

In the case of Atma, all steps of the product are registered on the Hedera blockchain guaranteeing full transparency of the process. 

Image source: Hedera’s website

In practice, Atma calls the creation of a product as a ‘product birth certificate’ and metadata is hashed and sent to Hedera. All of this is validated thanks to Hedera’s consensus model. At every step of the process, each manufacturer has the possibility to store immutable products records that are hashed and verified. These hashes are called ‘HCS message’, a short for ‘Hedera Consensus Service’, which guarantees the validation of data being entered. Let’s say honey is being harvested, this is the first HCS message. Then the glass container is being manufactured, this is a second HCS message and so on. One can track all the messages from end to start since they are all connected. To prove the validity of each and ensure there is no fraudulent activity at some point of the process, the same way that in a blockchain each block is hashed with the hash of the previous block, each HCS message’s hash contains the hash of the preceding message. That way, if one of the parties try to fraud, the hash will change and we will know something is wrong. Furthermore, to ensure that the hashes are correct, a consumer can take each hash from the start and each time using the preceding hash verify that each hash is correct, especially the last hash that is the accumulated proof.

Benefits & Outcomes
  • Combats frauds and falsification though complete and transparent producct autentication
  • Promotes a circular economy where products can easily be returned, recycled or resold
  • Gives manufacturer accuracy of their inventory as everything is being tracked in a sinlge-source-of-truth
  • Make the management of products easier:  can connect fast, efficient, and accurate stock management processes.
  • Facilitates Distribution Centre (DC)  and Supplier operational excellence
  • Permits real-time item level monitoring
  • Drive savings, make supply chain processes more efficient and transparent
Further Info

Current results of the project:

  • 90bn+ data carriers produced
  • More than 30bn physical items connected to atma
  • 5,000+ global factory participants
  • 300+ new items added per second
  • 50+ countries operating at global scale

Project is live and developing very rapidly.

Research by Alexandre in December 2023.

© Antony Welfare 2024