VeChain, a Shanghai-based startup, is turning its attention to the blockchain to bring trust and authenticity back into China’s wine market.

Shanghai is China’s second-largest market for imported wine after China’s southern Guangdong province. Yet, despite it being a $2.8 billion industry the wine sector is being undermined in the country, according to a report from the South China Morning Post.

According to the report, VeChain is beginning with French producer Pierre Ferraud and Fils. The company has signed a deal to get its 2017 Beaujolais Nouveau red wine verified on its blockchain platform. This is linked to Shanghai Waigaoqiao Direct Imported Goods (DIG) on the retail front.

Fu Yu, a partner at VeChain, said:

“The beauty of blockchain is that shoppers can see information about the whole life cycle of a bottle of wine from various sides, including vineyards, logistics and retailers.”

Shoppers will be able to scan a QR code on the wine bottle, which then tells them details such as the winery it came from, the grape type, an 18-digit Chinese customs declaration number, the date the bottle left the stock house, when it arrived at the Shanghai warehouse, and when it turned up at the DIG shops in the city.

According to the report, when it comes to more expensive wines, VeChain will add a near field communications (NFC) chip near the wine stopper. This will mean that once the chip is broken, users will no longer be able to read or write data onto its blockchain. In turn, this will alert consumers about refils.

Fu adds that VeChain is in talks with Fattoria Giro di Vento, a vineyard in central Italy, about using blockchain to gain a foothold in China. Wineries in Australia and South America have also been approached. At present, around 10,000 blockchain-enabled wine bottles have been shipped to DIG, with that number expected to increase tenfold by 2019.

According to market research company Mintel Group, the origin of wine is an important factor for Chinese consumers, with wine from France being their favourite. With mainland China importing $2.8 billion worth of wines in 2017, up 18 percent from the proceeding year, VeChain are hoping to change the perception of the industry by bringing a new level of trust and authenticity to the market.

Featured image from Shutterstock.
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