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ASCM Insights

Edible Microchips: Too Hard to Swallow?


Blockchain is known as a secure technology for exchanging anything of value, such as electronic banking or smart contract transactions. But the opportunities for supply chain applications are far reaching, including ownership and property rights, dispute resolution, and automated procurement. In fact, blockchain is even enabling more effective logistics tracking and product traceability through edible microchips. (Seriously.)

This week, The Wall Street Journal reports on this novel way to use blockchain to combat counterfeiters and imitators of the classic Italian Parmigiano-Reggiano. Producers are using blockchain-powered silicone microchips to track the 90-pound wheels of their precious commodity. The chip is about the size of a grain of sand — and, when scanned by a laser reader, gives a unique serial ID that verifies the authenticity of the cheese wheel. Produced by Chicago-based company p-Chip, the chips use blockchain to authenticate data as far back as the milk producer.

Although tracking products and materials with smart labels isn’t new, edible chips can handle a broader range of temperatures and conditions. Bill Eibon, chief technology officer at p-Chip, told The Journal that the microchips can handle extreme heat and cold, be read through ice, and withstand years of storage in liquid nitrogen.

Of course, it’s not just authentication of genuine Parmigiano-Reggiano that keeps cheese mongers up at night: Food fraud sours business results. According to David Watsky at CNET, the Parmigiano-Reggiano Consortium estimates there are around $2 billion in counterfeit sales per year. That's almost as much as sales of the actual cheese.

Cheese producers aren’t the only ones losing money to fakes. Counterfeit wine and spirts cost the industry an estimated $3.17 billion each year. Although microchips on wine and liquor bottles don’t have to be edible, they do need to be strategically placed. Producers use invisible ink, micro-etching of serial numbers and even holographic labels to combat fraud.

Say cheese

Put a smile on your face and earn a bit more cheddar with the new ASCM Supply Chain Technology Certificate. You’ll learn how to use the latest solutions to cut costs, boost performance and achieve a more sustainable supply chain. Or try the Supply Chain Planning Certificate to master flow, enhance business strategy and support synchronous planning. Plus, research shows that professionals who hold one of ASCM’s APICS credentials earn 27% more than their uncertified peers.

And if all this talk of fine cheese has you thinking about a nice charcuterie board and a tasty cocktail, be sure to join us at ASCM CONNECT 2023: North America, September 11-13, in Louisville, Kentucky. Sample the famous local bourbon with your supply chain friends from across the globe while gaining the very best supply chain education available. There’s still time to register now! 

About the Author

Abe Eshkenazi, CSCP, CPA, CAE CEO, ASCM

Abe Eshkenazi is chief executive officer of the Association for Supply Chain Management (ASCM), the largest organization for supply chain and the global pacesetter of organizational transformation, talent development and supply chain innovation. During his tenure, ASCM has significantly expanded its services to corporations, individuals and communities. Its revenue has more than doubled, and the association successfully completed three mergers in response to both heightened industry awareness and the vast and ongoing global impact driven by supply chains. Previously, Eshkenazi was the managing director of the Operations Consulting Group of American Express Tax and Business Services. He may be contacted at

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