OURZ – Transparency in the food industry

OURZ – Transparency in the food industry

"We need to build trust in the sustainability of companies and products, so that sustainable consumption can conquer the mass market", Jonas Wendt (Co-Founder OURZ).

The start-up OURZ wants to help create this trust by ensuring more transparency in the food sector. Through their web app, participating companies disclose their entire production and delivery process – from farm to table.

As part of the Farm-Food-Climate Challenge, ProjectTogether is looking for solutions for climate-positive agriculture and nutrition. OURZ is one of these solutions: With its web app, the initiative targets companies that are willing to openly share their entire production and supply chain. In doing so, the deep-tech start-up wants to enable conusmers to make more conscious and sustainable purchasing decisions.

Co-Founder Jonas Wendt (left) and Founder Antoni Hauptmann (right). (Photo: OURZ)

In reality this is still easier said than done today: 18 percent of Germans say they always pay attention to sustainability factors when buying food. Another 54 percent of consumers say they at least try to. The key challenge according to that same report is that 55 percent of them are often unsure which of the offered products is the most sustainable option (KPMG).

A first important step towards more transparency, also concerning sustainability, is the Supply Chain Act which is currently planned by the German government. The law is intended to oblige companies to trace foreign stations in their supply chain in order to uncover violations of labour law or environmentally harmful processes.

The start-up OURZ is already going one step further and is working on a solution to achieve its vision of an economy shaped by sustainability and quality-oriented companies. Their goal: full transparency within the supply chain and quickly available information for consumers. They should be able to see which stages each product has passed through and whether the producing company is acting sustainably throughout the entire process. OURZ works with companies from the food and beverage sector and helps them prove the source as well as the sustainability impact of their products. The relevant information is shared with consumers thorugh the web app.

Blockchain technology for traceable supply chains

To make all these datapoints transparent, the start-up uses the blockchain technology by which it can track, collect and subsequently analyse supply chain data via a dashboard. By storing all information in a decentralised and immutable way, responsibilities remain forever controllable via the blockchain and can be tracked in a publicly accessible way. In the process, data that is newly inserted must match existing data and cannot be changed afterwards. For example, a fisherman who has caught one tonne of fish legally and sustainably cannot sell 1.2 tonnes of fish unnoticed at the end of the chain.

In addition to the web app, the start-up uses QR codes on food packaging to make batch-specific and blockchain-secured product data accessible to customers.

About the Farm-Food-Climate Challenge

In the spirit of the European Green Deal, the Farm-Food-Climate Challenge has sought 100+ approaches to climate-positive agriculture and nutrition. For the challenge, the ProjectTogether team and partners drew on the experience and networks from the successful #WirVsVirus hackathon. Around 28,000 people took part in the world’s largest hackathon within 48 hours and worked together on over 1,500 solutions to the challenges of our time. Over 150 projects subsequently made their way into implementation.

Similarly, the Farm-Food-Climate Challenge offers a platform for innovative initiatives from society that want to create sustainable development along the entire value chain of the agricultural and food sector. Designers of tomorrow’s ecologically and economically sustainable world were invited to submit their ideas and solutions by the end of July 2020. Together with experts and partners from business, politics and civil society, ideas were then tested and validated in practice for nine months. Like the #WirVsVirus Hackathon, the Challenge is supported by the Vodafone Institute.