Using blockchain to drive supply chain transparency

Use cases and future outlook on blockchain in supply chain management

The COVID-19 pandemic gave the world a close-up view of the key factor determining the effectiveness of an organization—its supply chain management. Using blockchain can improve both supply chain transparency and traceability as well as reduce administrative costs.

Current supply chain landscape

Until COVID struck in 2020, consumer expectations revolved around a two-hour delivery model. But when the pandemic disrupted that model, consumers soon discovered the implications of the term “supply chain” as they confronted delays in the delivery of household goods—everything from toilet paper, mobile phones, and entertainment equipment to gaming consoles and home office furniture. With knowledge comes new expectations. And now both consumers and organizations alike are looking to technology to enhance supply chains and alleviate, or at least mitigate, any bottlenecks in the system. Nevertheless, technology is no silver bullet. Supply chains are often hostage to a host of factors including geopolitical tensions, cyberattacks, inflation, droughts that disrupt shipping by lowering water levels, and critical product stockouts, as well as the many unforeseen effects of global warming.

Given all these disruptions, many companies, and those responsible for supply chain effectiveness, are rethinking their lean and just-in-time planning as well as issues related to source, make, deliver, and return processes and systems. Moreover, supply chain executives are increasingly required to predict, and proactively mitigate, vulnerabilities in the supply chain. For that reason, these executives are focusing their strategic investments on three key effectiveness drivers:1

1. Predicting supply chain risk
2. Enabling environmental, social, and governance (ESG) tracking through supply chain traceability
3. Enhancing trust in a complex, multi-stakeholder environment

Enhancing these three drivers can help executives and their enterprises achieve transparency, track provenance and compliance, and enhance brand loyalty. For many organizations seeking to master their supply chains, this is where blockchain enters the picture. Blockchain is a record of transaction data that relies on a shared ledger. This ledger is inherently tamper-evident and provides a trusted shared and reliable way to record, validate, and view transactions across a complex system with many participants, some of whom may not inherently trust each other.

In the past, supply chain leaders had to rely on redundancy to mitigate supply chain disruptions. While some redundancy may always be necessary—especially for critical materials—solutions like blockchain can help companies proactively detect and mitigate supply chain risks before any severe impact occurs. For example, to increase transparency and traceability, companies in resource-intensive industries have turned to blockchain solutions to help control Scope 3 emissions.2 Finally, because global supply chains involve many discrete entities that are frequently separated by several degrees in terms of their interests, the quality and opacity of information invariably degrades trust among parties. Technologies like blockchain can help offset such detrimental effects by ensuring the authenticity of information and transparency during upstream transactions.

Blockchain supply chain innovation

How can blockchain help?

When thinking about how best to apply blockchain technology in the supply chain, it is important to remember that supply chains are, at their core, a network of interlinked companies. In that network, each business adds value to a product or service before it reaches the end user. This exchange and accumulation of value is recorded through a series of transactions, or flows, of information, goods, services, and finances.3 A “permissioned blockchain” offers the potential of recording these transactions (both physical and virtual) on a shared and immutable ledger, which enables the capture, validation, and sharing of data across these interlinked companies. Ultimately, all parties have access to a seamless exchange of value and a single source of truth that was previously impossible. For more and more use cases (e.g., predicting risk; enhancing visibility and traceability for critical product components; increasing data accuracy, immutability, and trust among value partners), blockchain strengthens global supply chains. Moreover, blockchain technology is mature enough to interface with, and take advantage of, other emerging technologies such as Internet of Things (IoT), smart contracts (pieces of code stored on a blockchain), and artificial intelligence (AI) to provide an enhanced and secured supply chain.

The next section discusses the potential benefits of blockchain in each of these areas. 

Potential benefits of using blockchain in supply chain

As noted earlier, blockchain has the potential to unlock significant value for organizations by reducing supply chain risk, increasing visibility, and enhancing trust across a complex ecosystem. Additionally, since blockchain does not displace a company’s legacy systems, blockchain technology can serve as an add-on enterprise solution that increases value while still maintaining existing enterprise resource planning (ERP) software systems or other current systems. Let’s consider three examples of how blockchain can deliver tangible benefits.

Key challenges for using blockchain in the supply chain

Beyond potentially enhancing supply chain resilience and viability, blockchain technology also presents several challenges that supply chain enterprises should consider during the decision-making process.

Case studies: Three Deloitte-led blockchain projects

Deloitte’s world-class Supply Chain practice helps enterprises imagine, deliver, and run their digital supply networks to address tomorrow’s challenges and opportunities. This section provides three examples of how Deloitte teams helped clients tackle some of their most complex supply chain issues using blockchain.

Conclusion: Future outlook for blockchain in supply chains

Imagine a world where you can replace the currently fragmented tracking of your supply chain with an interoperable solution, one that can significantly reduce the risk of unethical sourcing, shipping delays, inadequate storage, or ineffective distribution of your goods. Imagine a world where you can provide visibility into your supply chain to your customers and regulators and furnish irrefutable proof that you are meeting supply chain standards and expectations. And imagine a world, where, by addressing these considerations, you foster deeper trust and efficiency among all the stakeholders within your supply chain.

Blockchain can help address some of the key challenges that the supply chain industry faces today. While some technological and operational challenges remain in implementing blockchain solutions, Deloitte continues to work with enterprises to overcome these roadblocks and deliver the robust and effective solutions they need to forge superior supply chains. Given the current economic headwinds, and as corporations and consumers alike entertain high expectations of supply chains with fewer risks, greater visibility and transparency, and enhanced trust, Deloitte encourages enterprises to consider blockchain solutions as a possible antidote to their supply chain challenges.


1Bill Lam, Rafael F. Calderon, and Christopher Entrup, “Intelligent enterprise fueling the supply chain of the future,” Deloitte Insights, November 28, 2022.
2 Poulomi Sengupta, “How blockchain technology can unlock climate solutions,” Morningstar Sustainalytics, July 27, 2022.
3 Vishal Gaur and Abhinav Gaiha, “Building a transparent supply chain,” Harvard Business Review, May–June 2020.
4 Mitsubishi Chemical Group, “Making supply chains circular,” accessed May 2023.
5 Claudius Kormann et al., Material traceability for increased circularity in the chemical industry: A blockchain-based mass balance approach using GreenToken by SAP, GreenToken by SAP in collaboration with BASF, Mitsubishi Chemical, and SCG Chemicals, 2022.
6 Ryosuke Matsui, “Mitsubishi Logistics builds blockchain tracker for drug deliveries,” Nikkei Asia, November 28, 2022.
Margareta Teodorescu and Elena Korchagina, “Applying blockchain in the modern supply chain management: Its implication on open innovation,” Journal of Open Innovation: Technology, Market, and Complexity 7, no. 1 (March 2021): p. 80. 
8 Weili Yin and Wenxue Ran, “Theoretical exploration of supply chain viability utilizing blockchain technology,” Sustainability 13, no. 15 (July 2021): p. 8231.
9 Sarah K. Rathke, “Supply chain dispute resolution in the US,” Practical Law, 2015.
10 Tasneem Bulbulia, “De Beers introduces pioneer blockchain-backed diamond source platform at scale,” Mining Weekly, May 5, 2022.
11 Jim Kilpatrick and Carey Oven, “Supply chain strategies: For many companies, the traditional balance is shifting,” On the board’s agenda, Deloitte, October 2022.
12 Omar Ali et al., “A comparative study: Blockchain technology utilization benefits, challenges and functionalities,” IEEE Access 9 (2021): pp. 12730–49; Teodorescu and Korchagina, “Applying blockchain in the modern supply chain management: Its implication on open innovation.”
13 Ali et al., “A comparative study: Blockchain technology utilization benefits, challenges and functionalities”; Muhammad Nasir Mumtaz Bhutta et al., “A survey on blockchain technology: Evolution, architecture and security,” IEEE Access 9 (2021): pp. 61048–73; Teodorescu and Korchagina, “Applying blockchain in the modern supply chain management.
14 Dan Robitzski, “FedEx wants to track packages on the blockchain, so you’ll know exactly who dropped your stuff,” Futurism, May 5, 2018.
15 David Piesse, “De-risking the supply chain with blockchain technology and data integrity,” International Insurance Society, June 2021.
16 Ali et al., “A comparative study”; Bhutta et al., “A survey on blockchain technology: Evolution, architecture and security”; Sohail Jabbar et al., “Blockchain-enabled supply chain: Analysis, challenges, and future directions,” Multimedia Systems 27 (2021): pp. 787–806.
17 Teodorescu and Korchagina, “Applying blockchain in the modern supply chain management”; Yin and Ran, “Theoretical exploration of supply chain viability utilizing blockchain technology.”
18 Ali et al., “A comparative study”; Adrien Ogée et al., Inclusive deployment of blockchain for supply chains: Part 5 – A framework for blockchain cybersecurity, World Economic Forum, December 2019.
19 Ogée et al., Inclusive deployment of blockchain for supply chains: Part 5 – A framework for blockchain cybersecurity.
20 Yin and Ran, “Theoretical exploration of supply chain viability utilizing blockchain technology”; Jabbar et al., “Blockchain-enabled supply chain: Analysis, challenges, and future directions.”
21 Yin and Ran, “Theoretical exploration of supply chain viability utilizing blockchain technology.

This publication contains general information only and Deloitte is not, by means of this [publication or presentation], rendering accounting, business, financial, investment, legal, tax, or other professional advice or services. This publication is not a substitute for such professional advice or services, nor should it be used as a basis for any decision or action that may affect your business. Before making any decision or taking any action that may affect your business, you should consult a qualified professional adviser.

Deloitte shall not be responsible for any loss sustained by any person who relies on this publication.

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Deloitte Consulting LLP


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Senior Consultant
Deloitte Consulting LLP

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Deloitte Consulting LLP


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