MISE – Italian Ministry of Economic Development has recently launched a pilot project focusing on blockchain as a key tool for the protection of Made in Italy products. The project has been entrusted to IBM, and the American IT company is currently carrying on a feasibility study intended to develop a reference model for Made in Italy textile products.
The most famous brands’ products are very likely to be counterfeited as soon as they enter the market. Between 2006 and 2016, 310 million fake Made in Italy products have been confiscated. Unfortunately, their mere market entry is a disturbing indication and a warning sign about tax evasion, illegal labour, potential use of illegal substances, and organised crime activities.
In 2017, the aggregate value of counterfeit goods amounted to €294 million, and the clothing industry turned out to be the most hard-hit sector. Moreover, in 2017 Italy has been the world’s leading exporter of yarns and fabrics, holding 30% of the textile sector total revenue. As far as the leather industry is concerned, Italian tanners produced 20% of all the leather around the world. This data should be enough to explain why the fight against counterfeiting has finally become an issue of paramount importance.
The project is part of the many initiatives promoted by MISE to support a mass digitisation process all around the country. The Ministry has chosen to embrace an ecosystem approach based on the close involvement of companies and trade associations, with a view to synergy and knowledge exchange. The project started with a screening step carried out by IBM, quickly followed by a cooperative design thinking session involving some of the most important companies from the textile sector.
This kind of cooperation has enabled IBM to get a full picture of production processes, supply chain, and related issues. The screening showed that the most effective way of protecting Made in Italy products is through traceability. Thanks to Blockchain technology, every step of the production and supply chain can be registered in a scalable, tamper-resistant, and permanent universal ledger.
That is why MISE launched its Blockchain for Textile Traceability program. The aim of the project is to use this technology to protect Made in Italy through the constant monitoring of every step along the supply chain – a process that could easily be adapted to meet the needs of other industrial sectors (e.g. agrifood).
All the characteristics of the project seem to be a strong advantage in the service of Made in Italy. Small companies, especially, could benefit from a program that enables them to reach a high level of reputation without high costs, and subsequently protect their products from counterfeiting.
Once again, blockchain technology proves to be a priceless ally: thanks to this project, authentic Made in Italy products will be more recognisable while their fake counterparts will be exposed as easily. Made in Italy labels will likely become harder to achieve, but this strictness will protect quality, transparency, and truth – three concepts that we should all treasure and safeguard.