Ex-Qantas exec tackles food slavery with blockchain

Fibo Quantum

“At present, this space is wide open. It’s such an enormous global market, with no established leader. In terms of competitors, we see a mix of legacy software businesses trying to find new revenue streams and niche-focused start-ups, such as track and trace in the fish or pharmaceutical industries,” Ms Gordon said.

“Slavery is becoming a major issue in supply chains, both here and overseas. Australia passed the Modern Slavery Act in 2018, and this is part of a global trend, where both enterprises and consumers want certainty that products have been ethically and sustainably sourced.”

Microsoft Australia MD Steven Worrall, Main Sequences Ventures partner Mike Zimmerman, Ms Gordon and Andrews Meat Industries CEO Peter Andrews all have high hopes for Lumachain’s growth. Jane Dempster

Lumachain uses blockchain technology to track and trace the origin, location, and condition of individual items in the food supply chain in real time.

It says this can reduce waste, improve product recalls and optimise audits, while also helping businesses ensure products are ethically produced.

The introduction of the Modern Slavery Act in Australia has already begun to have ramifications in business investment decisions.

Earlier this year a guide for companies, published by the Australian Council of Superannuation Investors, identified the industries (aside from textiles) that pose the greatest risk of modern slavery. Food, beverages and agriculture came third on the list behind mining and construction.

Ms Gordon said her experience in big corporate tech environments was invaluable in her new role as a start-up founder.

Both she and Lumachain’s chief product officer Tony White previously built and implemented many enterprise supply chains around the world, including when they worked together at Qantas and CIMIC, where Ms Gordon was the CIO and Mr White was head of supply chain and procurement.

“One of our core values is we ‘get stuff done’. You lean in to your background and broad range of experience and skills and that allows you to get through a lot of work every day,” Ms Gordon said.

An early local customer is Andrews Meat Industries, which is initially using Lumachain in its domestic operations, before turning it on to its Wagyu products that currently export to 20 countries.

“Proof of compliance, provenance, sustainability and ethical sourcing are now fundamental requirements in dealing with food service and retail markets,” Andrews Meat Industries CEO Peter Andrews said.

“Having this level of visibility throughout the supply chain will be very important for our suppliers of livestock, distributors and end users.”