Two Hands blockchain marketing alternative to wet markets for SA southern rock lobster fishers

Another southern rock lobster pot is dropped off into the pristine Australian waters. Photo Two Hands
Another southern rock lobster pot is dropped off into the pristine Australian waters. Photo Two Hands

A new system of connecting southern rock lobster fishers to consumers to China could be coming to ports at Kangaroo Island and Port Lincoln.

The Two Hands digital marketplace initiative is looking at expanding its operations to South Australia.

Two Hands is working with Australian fishers and farmers to redefine how consumers source and consume local produce, including avoiding wet markets in China and providing 100 per cent transparency in the food supply chain journey.

Two Hands is a digital marketplace using blockchain technology to directly connect high-end restaurants in Shanghai with Australian primary producers.

Using the blockchain technology and smart tags, the company essentially eliminates any middlemen between Aussie producers and restaurant owners.

Trevor Barker, one of Two Hands' southern rock lobster fishers from Apollo Bay, Victoria. Photo Two Hands

Trevor Barker, one of Two Hands' southern rock lobster fishers from Apollo Bay, Victoria. Photo Two Hands

At the moment, Two Hands' lobster fisherman are in the Port Macquarie and Apollo Bay region, however the company absolutely wants to expand to South Australia.

The companies founders actually recently visit to Kangaroo Island during a tour of potential processing areas.

SA Northern Zone Rock Lobster Fishermen's Association executive officer Kyri Toumazos said SA fishers would welcome the new system.

"To some degree we are behind when it comes to product traceability and have a long way to go," Mr Toumazas said. "Any time the consumer knows their product come from a sustainable fishery then we have a win."

He said the coronavirus pandemic had caused huge disruption for the industry, but demand had picked up and boats were back fishing off Kangaroo Island now that the northern zone season had been extended out to October 31.

Perhaps the Two Hands system could help get more product on limited air freight available, he said.

Two Hands says currently what happens in selling southern rock lobster to China is a complex supply chain process that means the lobsters are physically handled 10 or more times, including going through the infamous China wet markets.

This process adds stress to the animals, reduces their weight and increases their mortality rates, as chemicals are added to tanks, unsanitary conditions, wrong temperature in tank waters, transported in unrefrigerated trucks.

It is also a process whereby the middlemen have all the power - the fishers of Kangaroo Island and all other locations are price takers.

The middlemen simply hold the lobsters in tanks until they get the price they want from the restaurants, which of course means the fish are not particularly fresh when they are delivered to their final destination.

Two Hands says there is also a great deal of food fraud that occurs with these middlemen - passing off meat of one animal for another.

For example, twice as much 'Australian'-labelled beef is sold in Chinese restaurants than is actually exported from Australia.

Clearly that means other, poorer quality beef is being purposely mis-labelled and sold as 'Australian', tarnishing the reputation of Australian produce over time.

The Two Hands system

Two Hands pays southern rock lobster fishers above market price for their lobsters because of the supply chain savings it can get from removing middlemen.

The restaurants order the lobster direct from the fisher through the Two Hands digital marketplace.

Two Hands lobsters are sent to Shanghai already addressed to the specific restaurant,

Once they clear customs, they are delivered direct to the restaurant, without ever leaving their original custom-made packaging and without going through any other hands, or wet markets.

Two Hands' blockchain and smart tagging technology ensures transparency and visibility of the lobster's journey from the fisher's boat to arriving at the patron's plate at the restaurant - where they can scan the smart tag's QR code to learn about the fisher and the region where the lobster was caught.

Consumers can trace individual lobster back to the Australian fisher that caught it thanks to the Two Hands tag system.

Consumers can trace individual lobster back to the Australian fisher that caught it thanks to the Two Hands tag system.

Coming out of Covid-19 it can't be business as usual. More than ever we need ethical participation in our food supply chains. The answer is not governments, law enforcement or the United Nations.

The answer is innovative technology empowering farmers, chefs and consumers.

The Two Hands solution brings direct connection between farmer and fishers to chefs and consumers, flipping the balance of power. In doing so, Two Hands gives farmers and fishers the recognition, higher profits and transparency they deserve. This brings the trust implicit in the local village, to the global village.

Before globalisation people bought directly off the producers they trusted and with the technology available today, Two Hands is bringing this back.

The Two Hands team, headquartered in Melbourne and also based in South Australia, Shanghai and Silicon Valley, is one of the first in the world with a proven business model taking breakthrough blockchain technology with smart tagging and humanising that technology to solve a serious global issue.

How it works: In a rock lobster example, the fisher locks a tamper-evident Two Hands smart tag on the lobster.

The weight and quality are recorded and this information is immediately uploaded to the marketplace with pricing. Restaurants place orders which are aggregated for delivery. After the order passes through Shanghai customs, it is transported direct to the restaurant avoiding all middlemen, including the wet markets.

Every smart tag is unique and customised so in the restaurant, chefs and consumers scan the smart tag and see videos of the fisher, the harvesting region and the chef while also providing a blockchain-authenticated summary of how the farmer's product travelled from farmgate to the consumer in China.

What makes this technology implementation incredibly difficult is every person who handles product from the Australian farmer to the consumer in China must act ethically, transparently and collaboratively. Two Hands has been able to achieve this integrity because, by directly connecting producers with restaurants, we have reinvented the supply to only include participants agreeing to have every action and transaction recorded for all to see.

There can be great beauty in blockchain technology. One of the elements of great beauty is that farmers, chefs and consumers can transparently see all the same actions and transactions. They are fully informed on the ethics of the supply chain.

What is to stop unethical participants from creating fake versions of Two Hands? Blockchain can make recorded actions and transactions public or private information. If made public, then anyone on the planet can see the ethical ratings on a public register of all the participants in the supply chain, from the producer to the consumer. In this way, copy cats and unethical participants will be discovered and their rating will ensure farmers won't sell to, and consumers will not buy from, these bad actors.

One of the great things about this digital age is, once a digitally disruptive product resonates with its users in solving significant pain points, it can grow its user base at exhilarating speed. The world becomes a better place.

Primary school kids today cannot envisage a world where smart phones did not exist. Equally, when infants of today reach primary school, they will be incredulous previous generations did not know who the farmer was nor if the food was handled ethically. These future primary school kids will feel safe knowing food supply chains will not enable another Covid-19, SARS or bird flu.

Two Hands has partnered with the Australian equity crowdfunding platform Birchal, aiming to raise $3 million through public investment. Funds raised will further evolve their technology and expand their proteins and restaurants. Be part of the solution and become a shareholder in Two Hands. www.birchal.com/company/twohands www.twohands.world

Consumers can trace individual lobster back to the Australian fisher that caught it thanks to the Two Hands tag system.

Consumers can trace individual lobster back to the Australian fisher that caught it thanks to the Two Hands tag system.

Two Hands Blockchain Technology

Blockchain has the capacity to either entrench and empower affluent middlemen or be a disruptive force which gives the power back to fishers, farmers, chefs and consumers. Two Hands has reinvented the supply chain and incorporated blockchain in a way which flips the power dynamic, making Two Hands accountable to fishers, farmers, chefs and consumers. In doing so Two Hands is one of the first globally to have implemented a commercial application of blockchain.

What is Blockchain technology and how does it work?

Blockchain technology is used to store transactional records in a way that is far more secure and trustworthy than traditional databases. Every transaction in this 'digital ledger' is authorized by the digital signature of the owner, which authenticates the transaction and safeguards it from tampering. Shared access to transaction history amongst 'peers' within the system provides further oversight of the validity or 'truth' of the data within the network.

Blockchain is a combination of three leading technologies:

1. Cryptographic keys 2. A peer-to-peer network containing a shared ledger 3. A means to store the transactions and records of the network Private and Public cryptographic keys are required for successful transactions to occur between members of the network. Each individual has these two keys, which they use to produce a secure digital identity reference. This secured identity used for authorizing and controlling transactions is referred to as a 'digital signature' and is the most important aspect of Blockchain technology. The peer-to-peer network is simply a large number of individuals who act as authorities use the digital signature in order to reach a consensus on transactions, among other issues. When they authorize a deal, it is certified by mathematical verification, which results in a successful secured transaction between the relevant parties being stored in the shared digital ledger. In this way, Blockchain users employ cryptography keys to perform different types of digital interactions over a peer-to-peer network, that once validated as 'true' are then stored in the permanent record of the 'digital ledger'.

Here's a simplified explanation of blockchain: I'm having a conversation with a sheep farmer named Paul and Paul says "Greg, I will sell you my beef cattle for $100 a head." I tell my business partner who immediately calls Paul and Paul says "I never said those words." It becomes 'he said she said'. The truth is unknown. BUT, if we have 100 people, who are considered trustworthy people, listening to our conversation and Paul mentions the $100 per head cattle price, then the truth becomes what blockchain calls "immutable" - that is, the truth cannot be changed.

With blockchain technology, those "100 people" are actually 100 organisations that would be trusted globally. These 100 organisations will be trusted to ensure we have ethical food supply chains and may comprise universities, not- for-profits and auditors.

When you and I know our every action and transaction will be recorded in front of those 100 organisations, it encourages us to act ethically, transparently and collaboratively.

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