Horizon CDT Research Highlights

Research Highlights

Blockchain and Distributed Ledger Technologies For Supply Chain Traceability: Industry Considerations and Consumer Preferences

  Symeon Dionysis (2017 cohort)   www.linkedin.com/in/symeon-dionysis

Several businesses and academic circles were quick to proclaim blockchain, the distributed ledger technology behind digital currencies, as the most influential innovation of the next decades and the solution to a plethora of industry challenges. That was especially true for supply chain management and product traceability applications, where the technology's features were viewed as a potential solution to longstanding issues of communication inefficiencies, production monitoring, and standards compliance. However, despite the excessive amount of investment and experimentation, blockchain growth and adoption have stagnated. A possible reason for the current gridlock the technology finds itself in lies in the absence of quality research that goes beyond its technical implementations and provides clear insights on which characteristics of blockchain are most relevant for applications in supply chain traceability and how consumers perceive products that utilise them.

In attempting to fill that research gap, provide companies and organizations with actionable insights, and contribute to unlocking blockchain’s innovation gridlock, this PhD answers two critical questions. One addresses which aspects and characteristics of the technology are most relevant to industry decision-makers as well as whether companies and organizations truly need to adopt and implement it. The second examines the case of using blockchain as a traceability certification solution in the coffee industry, how consumers will perceive products that utilize it, and how it compares with existing traceability certifications in the market.

The online survey used to explore the views of industry professionals revealed that despite the overall positive views around blockchain and the importance the technology plays in their business plans, issues around regulatory compliance, operational frameworks and concerns around the role and nature of system participation are hindering broader adoption and implementation. At the same time, blockchain was a suitable business solution for less than half of them. On the other side of the coin, a questionnaire based on an extended version of the Theory of Planned Behaviour combined with an online experimental study revealed that consumers also positively value the feature offered by the technology. However, a possible equation effect emerged when compared with multiple traceability certifications in a market-like environment. The outcomes of this research point toward the significant role regulatory frameworks could play both in facilitating industry considerations as well as in increasing consumer awareness around the concept and importance of product traceability. As a result, a possible course of policy action is suggested.


Dionysis, S., Chesney, T., & McAuley, D. (2022). Examining the influential factors of consumer purchase intentions for blockchain traceable coffee using the theory of planned behaviour. British Food Journal, ahead-of-print(ahead-of-print). https://doi.org/10.1108/BFJ-05-2021-0541.

Dionysis, S., Chesney, T., & McAuley, D. (2022). Blockchain traceability certification for organic coffee: A study of multiple labels and consumer preferences. International Journal of Consumer Studies, in preparation.

This author is supported by the Horizon Centre for Doctoral Training at the University of Nottingham (RCUK Grant No. EP/L015463/1) and Digital Catapult Centre.