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Livestock traceability in New Zealand: Using blockchain to address current challenges in the industry

The existing livestock traceability system in New Zealand hardly achieves the general goals of a traceability system such as managing disease outbreaks and tracking animal-based products from farm to fork. Further, users often complain that the New Zealand system is difficult to use. To overcome such issues in other parts of the world, blockchain-based traceability systems have been suggested. However, there is little research in the New Zealand context. This study aims to fill that gap by identifying challenges in the existing livestock traceability system in New Zealand, then evaluating if blockchain technology can address those challenges. The applicability of a blockchain-based livestock traceability system to New Zealand is discussed. Existing literature is used to understand the potential use of blockchain technology to address livestock traceability challenges relating to the themes of data management, relationships (among supply chain partners), transparency, compliance, and visibility. To understand the New Zealand context, participants in the New Zealand livestock supply chain are interviewed. Interview data is analysed using the themes listed above. Challenges gathered from the interviews are then compared with the challenges and solutions found in literature to evaluate if a blockchain-based traceability system would suit the New Zealand context. The results suggest that a blockchain-based traceability system supported by the Internet of Things (IoT) and smart contracts can dramatically improve the livestock traceability system in New Zealand by addressing many of the country’s traceability challenges. However, implementing such a system could initially involve a significant cost and necessitate changes to existing organisational practices. Further, workarounds should be sought for implementation barriers such as low network connectivity in rural New Zealand. Although expensive to implement, eventually, a blockchain-based traceability system could help industry manage otherwise expensive occurrences, such as food recalls, with less effort. Therefore, spending resources to implement a blockchain-based traceability system today can be a worthwhile investment for the future.
Type of thesis
The University of Waikato
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