This is the second part of a series exploring the history, technology, and partnerships of Envisible, a sustainable food procurement company aiming to make supply chains more transparent. Read parts one, three, four, and five.
The company Envisible is using a combination of technologies to make supply chains more transparent. The company traces its products by collecting and verifying data at each step, from the first mile to the grocery store.
Co-founders Mark Kaplan and Jayson Berryhill created the food supply company as a response to the fraud and human rights abuses that plague opaque supply chains.
“Integrity and supply chain stakeholders are not synonymous,” Kaplan tells Food Tank. “That’s why traceability is so necessary.”
Kaplan and Berryhill previously worked with small-scale fishers in a partnership with the U.S. Department of State, though the project didn’t take the seafood product all the way to market. But to ensure full food system visibility from ocean to store, the pair realized they would have to create a company that encompasses each step of the supply chain.
The pair’s solution was Envisible, a company that supplies sustainable, traceable seafood to Topco Associates. The grocery cooperative then sells the products under its Full Circle Market brand.
The company currently sources its seafood from six fisheries that are known for their work in sustainability.
But it’s one thing to claim transparency and sustainability, Kaplan says, and another to prove it. For example, he points to Cargill and Nestlé, who espouse the value of supply chain traceability on their websites. But they were sued by Côte d’Ivoire farmers who claimed the cocoa companies use forced and child labor in their supply chains.
That’s why Kaplan sought to build technology into the bones of Envisible.
“Traceability is the ultimate truth in a food system, it’s the underpinnings of sustainability,” Kaplan tells Food Tank. “Tech-enabled traceability provides a verifiable source of information that could be certified with integrity.”
To track seafood from catch to plate, the founders turned to blockchain technology, and a past partner of Kaplan’s–Mastercard. Envisible spun out a separate company, Wholechain, to house an industry neutral traceability platform. Wholechain connects and illuminates each step of the supply chain, in part by using a blockchain developed by Mastercard. Each verified Wholechain user, from producer to processing plant to transportation, reports in with an app or desktop website as the product moves through the supply chain.
By requiring each company in Envisible’s network to participate via Wholechain, the company closes any blind spots in the supply chain, Kaplan says.
Additionally, thanks to a partnership with Seafood Analytics, Envisible employs sensor technology to add a layer of data-supported integrity to its seafood.
For example, Envisible’s salmon supplier Northline Seafoods measures freshness using bioelectric impedance sensors that record fat, muscle, and water composition of the fish it catches. That data is then shared with the other supply chain participants via Wholechain, and a record is created on the blockchain.
Envisible’s seafood hit the shelves of more than 10 Topco member grocers in June 2020. Under the Full Circle Market brand, Envisible offers nine species of fish sourced from five countries, including wild Alaskan sockeye salmon, wild African yellowfin tuna, and farmed shrimp from India. The company is already planning additions to the product line.
Photo courtesy of Mark Kaplan