The aim is to 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
Australian Wool Innovation (AWI), the research, development and marketing organisation for the Australian wool industry, has partnered with blockchain firm Everledger to trace the wool chain of custody from farm to consumer.
In line with AWI’s push to promote traceability in support of the Australian wool industry, Everledger will build and host an Electronic Chain of Custody Tool (ECCT) on its platform. The aim is to 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.
In this initial stage, ECCT will act as a proof of concept. It will trace the journey of wool from farm to the end consumer, by identifying and capturing the necessary documentation at each stage of the value chain. The ECCT will demonstrate sustainability and compliance best practices and provide more confidence on the authenticity and provenance of the wool product. It means a retailer or end consumer could verify where and when in Australia the original wool was sourced.
Different participants at each stage of the supply chain will be able to connect through standardised data, in line with best practices for the apparel industry. Recorded evidence can be used to demonstrate compliance, while participants can also explore additional technologies to enhance material and chain of custody integrity.
John Roberts, COO at AWI, explained that running the proof of concept initiative will inform the organisation about the applicability of blockchain technology to showcase and gauge industry appetite. “A proof of concept will allow a more prudent use of growers funds, as from the project findings we will then determine whether we will invest in a full platform or look to participate in an alternative.”
He added: “Our organisation and stakeholders have been monitoring the rapid escalation in emphasis being placed on provenance, corporate social responsibility, and the perennial concerns regarding supply chain efficiency and biosecurity. Traceability and transparency are critical for safeguarding the global reputation of Australian wool. This partnership with Everledger will help us to ease the flow of information up and down the supply chain to all parties, and so communicate wool’s benefits to a wider audience. Ultimately, this is good news for our farmers and related small businesses that rely on these remarkable sheep to make a living.”
Everledger CEO Leanne Kemp noted blockchain combined with other technologies can generate significant economic value to a range of sectors in Australia, contributing an estimated global annual business value of over $175bn by 2025.
“AWI are taking a lead for other traditional industries in Australia to follow,” she said, adding the new solution will help AWI to deliver a more transparent value chain.
“By sharing provenance information securely – from farm to consumer – all participants can enjoy the benefits of traceability.”
Last week, AWI published its Wool 2030 strategy for helping stakeholders make more informed decisions and adopt more sustainable practices.