The implementation of the blockchain technology in the agri-food supply chains is in its introductory phase. Lead companies, often retailers, introduce this technology for specific objectives, such as assuring traceability or improving sales and reputation. At the same time, the technology could impact much more broadly the performances of food chains. Little is known about this impact as the evidence provided in the literature is scarce and mostly focused on specific indicators. This paper addresses this gap assessing the impact of the blockchain technology on food supply chains from an explorative perspective. An integrated conceptual framework is proposed which includes a broad set of performance dimensions discussed in the literature: efficiency, flexibility, responsiveness, food quality, and transparency of supply chains. These dimensions are assessed using a case study, consisting of three supply chains where a large European retailer has promoted the blockchain adoption. Data was collected through semi-structured interviews with key managers at different stages of the three supply chains and were systematically analysed through a thematic analysis. Results reveal that blockchain technology impacts positively on the profit and/or return on investment of supply chains, it leads to an increase of extrinsic food quality attributes and it fosters a better information management along the food chains due to an improved information accessibility, availability and sharing. The current analysis also suggests an improved management of behavioural uncertainty among the agents of the supply chains and an increase of firm's knowledge as well as supply chain management competencies. While the study remains of explorative nature, it offers a basis for the selection of theoretical approaches and the formulation of new hypotheses for future blockchain studies.
- Economic performances
- Food supply chains