SHOPPERS will soon be able to check that their oats are gluten-free thanks to six Scottish farmers and “blockchain” technology.
Although oats are naturally gluten-free, many of the facilities in which they are processed handle gluten and so contamination is an issue.
Six Scottish farmers have been created a gluten-free oat supply chain, so customers can trace where their oats were grown, stored and milled.
A “blockchain” is a type of database into which lots of people from different places can enter information that’s then linked together in a chain, rather than being stored in a single place.
Andrew Booth – who has built an oat processing mill at Savock Farms near Newburgh, along with the Dams family of Craigie Farm near Whitecairns – said: “Our simple idea is that someone will be able to pick up a packet of oats in the supermarket, scan a quick response (QR) code, and see a whole dashboard of information tracing the oats’ journey from farm to shelf.
“As farmers, we want to produce a premium product that the customer wants.”
Commenting on the new mill, Booth added: “This is a state-of-the-art plant and we understand it to be one of only two dedicated gluten-free plants in the UK, and the only one in Scotland.”
The project involved Edinburgh-based blockchain specialist Wallet Services and was run by Paul Mayfield, a senior food and drink consultant at SAC Consulting, part of Scotland’s Rural College.
Mayfield said: “Very early on we decided that distributed ledger technology, often called ‘blockchain’, could provide the answer.
“It’s a relatively new technology in the agri-food sector and, although a few global food manufacturers have investigated its use, there have been few projects linking it back to farms.”
Read more farming stories on Scottish Field’s food and drink pages.