Blockchain is not a silver bullet for agro-food supply chain sustainability: Insights from a coffee case study
Journal article, 2022

Information sharing lies at the core of most governance interventions within agro-food commodity supply-chains, such as certification standards or direct trade relationships. However, actors have little information available to guide sustainable consumption decisions beyond simple labels. Blockchain technology can potentially alleviate the numerous sustainability problems related to agro-food commodity supply-chains by fostering traceability and transparency. Despite significant research on blockchain, there is limited understanding of the concrete barriers and benefits and potential applications of blockchain in real-world settings. Here, we present a case study of blockchain implementation in a coffee supply-chain. Our aim is to assess the potential of blockchain technology to promote sustainability in coffee supply chains through increased traceability and transparency and to identify barriers and opportunities for this. While our pilot implementation clearly illustrates certain benefits of blockchain, it also suggests that blockchain is no silver bullet for delivering agro-food supply chain sustainability. Knowledge on provenance and transparency of information on quality and sustainability can help trigger transformation of consumer behaviour, but the actual value lies in digitising the supply chain to increase efficiency and reduce costs, disputes, and fraud, while providing more insight end-to-end through product provenance and chain-of-custody information. We identify a need to understand and minimize supply chain barriers before we can reap the full benefits of digitalization and decentralization provided by blockchain technology.

Sustainability governance


Blockchain implementation


Coffee supply chain



Simon L. Bager

Universite catholique de Louvain

Christina Singh


Martin Persson

Chalmers, Space, Earth and Environment, Physical Resource Theory

Current Research in Environmental Sustainability

26660490 (eISSN)

Vol. 4 100163

Greenhouse gas emissions and biodiversity loss from land use change embodied in international trade of agricultural commodities - a pan-tropical assesement

Formas (2014-1181), 2015-01-01 -- 2019-03-31.

Subject Categories

Other Mechanical Engineering

Transport Systems and Logistics

Information Systemes, Social aspects



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