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AB InBev launches blockchain pilot to show barley supply chain to consumers

AB InBev has launched a pilot of blockchain technology to give full field-to-bottle traceability to its beers while supporting its barley farmers.

Taking place in Europe, the pilot is designed to ensure transparency for the brewing giant and to connect its consumers to the broader supply chain. By scanning a QR code on pack, consumers can learn about where the barley for their beer was grown.

As one of the world's largest barley buyers, AB InBev - which brews brands including Budweiser, Stella Artois, Corona, Beck's and Leffe - works directly with 60 per cent of its farming base, around 20,000 browers in 13 countries across five continents, supporting with agronomy skills, tools and research to improve productivity and sustainability.

This pilot scheme is designed to connect with the remaining 40 per cent of its farmers with whom it deals indirectly, many of whom are located in European countries including France, Germany and the UK.

It will begin by linking barley farmers in north-east France with a malthouse in Antwerp and the Stella Artois brewery in Leuven, Belgium, using a scalable blockchain technology platform. Through this platform, AB InBev will start to aggregate data to help indirect famers improve their yields and environmental footprint.

For consumers, the scheme will mean that when they scan a QR code on a pack of Leffe in France, it will bring up a view of the farm where the barley for the beer was grown, reaped and malted. 

The platform has been deployed by tech firm SettleMint, headquartered in AB InBev's hometown of Leuven, and the initiative will be supported by Fujistu. 

Erik Novaes, vice president of procurement and sustainability, Europe at AB InBev, said: "Beer is made of simple, natural ingredients - barley, water, hops and yeast - so it is important that we as a company and our consumers know the ingredients we use are of the highest quality and grown sustainably. This new barley blockchain pilot is the latest initiative in our focus on smart agriculture: using new technology, data and insights to improve our farmers' use of natural resources, crop yields and livelihoods."

Pieter Bryland, CIO for Europe at AB InBev, added: "By connecting players across the beer supply chain - farmers, malting cooperatives, breweries, warehouses and carriers - to one secure, decentralised platform we can increase traceability and gather data that will help us to continue to grow the finest ingredients for our beers sustainably."

28 October 2020 - Bethany Whymark