This tech company is using blockchain-based technology to trace wineBy Edith Hancock
Tech company Everledger is using blockchain-based bottle traceability to tackle counterfeiting in the wine and spirits industry.
Everledger, a London-based technology company that uses blockchain technology to track the provenance of diamonds and other valuable products, is collaborating with labelling and adhesive specialist Avery Dennison to create wine labels with digital traceability.
It is hoped the authentication system, which is being trialled with US wine negotiant Wine Trade Network, will protect the “value and reputation” of companies that make wines and spirits that are often counterfeited, according to Everledger’s senior executive vice president, Scott Austin.
Counterfeiting is a particular problem for high profile wineries and distilleries. Just under £220 million is lost from the UK economy each year thanks to counterfeit wines and spirits entering the market, according to a recent report from the European Union’s Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO). At the end of 2016, fake Scotch whisky bottles worth close to a total £1 million were removed from the market in what one broker called “just the tip of the iceberg”.
According to the International Center for Alcohol Policies, some 30% of alcohol consumed worldwide is counterfeit.
To create a digital paper-trail for the drinks trade, the tech firm is combining its blockchain-based digital platform with Avery Dennison’s Janela intelligent labelling system. Originally launched to track the authenticity of clothing, each Janela label is tamper-resistant, and has a unique, serialised digital identity online. Retailers can then use Near Field Communication — a form of contactless communication between devices like smartphones or tablets — to record the custody of a product throughout the supply chain.
The labels can track the provenance of the wines is tracked, also allowing consumers to discover the lifetime journey of their wine – from grape to bottle.
The technology is being rolled out with Wine Trade Network’s ‘Appellation Earth’ wines from Napa Valley.
“Over the past few years, companies have continued to see a rise in counterfeit wine and spirits being sold,” said Mariana Rodriguez, marketing director of Avery Dennison.
This new technology will “provide an opportunity to bring new technologies together for brands and consumers to feel confident about the product being purchased and consumed,” she said.
Last year, the World Economic Forum named Everledger one of the most promising technology pioneers of 2018.
It is the first time Avery Dennison has applied its smart-labelling system to the drinks sector.
Steve Schepman, Wine Trade Network’s president, said: “We are keen to be part of the collaboration in starting the innovative use of intelligent labelling while addressing the problem of counterfeit wine consumption. Appellation Earth is authenticated as a Blend of Napa Valley Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Zinfandel, & Petite Syrah.”
If all goes well in the trial period, the two companies hope to roll out their smart-label tracking technology industry-wide in 2019.