MIT SMR Connections
MIT SMR Connections is the custom content creation unit within MIT Sloan Management Review.
Behind almost every beer is the story of barley. And with consumers increasingly concerned about the environmental impact of the goods they buy and food they eat, the story of barley is now a story of agricultural supply chain sustainability.
But when it comes to Birra Peroni, and the 1,500 small farms that produce the barley that goes into its 12 brands of beer, the beer is also a story of Italy and the country’s rich culture, geography, history, and renowned passion for high-quality, fresh food. Capturing and telling all these stories could be done in a documentary, feature film, or coffee-table book. Instead, the nearly 180-year-old beer maker has turned to something decidedly more modern to tell the story of its brand while also ensuring it will meet its supply chain sustainability goals: blockchain.
Blockchain is becoming an increasingly popular way for businesses — particularly manufacturers and especially those that produce food — to meet consumer demand for transparency on how, where, and when their goods are sourced and produced. It also helps provide assurances about quality, ethical trade practices, and efforts to reduce carbon footprints. Using blockchain’s distributed ledger technology, businesses can collect all the relevant information about an end product as it makes its way through its supply chain — in Birra Peroni’s case, from the field to the bottle — in a trusted, traceable, and automated way, without the support or intervention of a centralized authority.
That information is stored in a non-fungible token (NFT), which is an encrypted, time-stamped, and tamper-proof digital certificate that’s recorded on the blockchain. At Birra Peroni, one NFT is created for each batch of beer produced for sale in Italy — about 10 per day — representing the barley’s journey, from the seed going into the ground, to the farmer putting it on the truck, to its transformation into malt and then beer, to dispensing the beer into the bottle.
Then, when the bottle arrives in the Italian consumer’s hands, its label includes a QR code that, when scanned, reveals an inside view of how it was created via video, images, and the data stored on the NFT about that specific batch. Read this case study to learn more.