Using Blockchain to Trace PDO/PGI/TSG Products
Luis Alves
, Tiago Carvalhido
, Estrela Ferreira Cruz
1,2 a
and Ant
onio Miguel Rosado da Cruz
1,2 b
Instituto Polit
ecnico de Viana do Castelo, 4900-347, Viana do Castelo, Portugal
Centro ALGORITMI, Escola de Engenharia, Universidade do Minho, Guimar
aes, Portugal
Blockchain, Smart Contract, Hyperledger, Sustainability, Supply-chain, Value Chain, Traceability.
For helping preserve the cultural traditions of populations and their social and economic sustainability, the
European Union created a set of denominations such as “Protected Designation of Origin” (PDO), “Protected
Geographical Indication” (PGI) and “Traditional Specialty Guaranteed” (TSG), for certifying and guaran-
teeing a set of characteristics of the region in the product and/or manufacturing process. In this paper, a
blockchain-based traceability platform is proposed, to trace PDO/PGI/TSG products from their source to the
final consumers, using Hyperledger Fabric. This platform enables the transparent registration of activities
throughout the value chain and provides the traceability information demanded by informed consumers while,
at the same time, helps in avoiding forgeries.
Traditional products help to preserve traditions and
local culture, as they protect the ancestral knowledge
that has passed from older generations to current ones.
The European Union, as a way of defining and
guaranteeing the quality of traditional products and
protecting them from forgeries, has created a set
of denominations such as “Protected Designation of
Origin” (PDO), “Protected Geographical Indication”
(PGI) and “Traditional Specialty Guaranteed” (TSG).
These designations guarantee a set of characteris-
tics of the region, product or manufacturing process.
Products registered under one of the three schemes
may be marked with the logo for that scheme to help
identify those products. The schemes are based on
the legal framework provided by the EU Regulation
No 1151/2012 of the European Parliament and of the
Council of 21 November 2012 on quality schemes for
agricultural products and foodstuffs.
A PDO is a geographical designation that iden-
tifies a product originating from that region, whose
quality or characteristics are essentially or exclusively
due to the specific geographical environment, includ-
ing natural and human factors, whose production
phases take place in that defined geographical area.
To receive the PDO status, the entire product must
be traditionally and entirely manufactured (prepared,
processed and produced) within the specific region
and thus acquire unique properties.
The PGI is linked to the name of an area, a spe-
cific place or even a country, used as a description
of an agricultural product or a foodstuff that comes
from such a region, which has a specific quality, good-
will or other characteristic property, attributable to its
geographical origin, whose production, processing or
preparation takes place within the determined geo-
graphical area. A PGI product must be traditionally
and at least partially manufactured (prepared, pro-
cessed or produced) within the specific region and
thus acquire unique properties.
The TSG certification provides a protection
regime for traditional food products of specific char-
acter. Differing from PDO and PGI, this quality
scheme does not certify that the protected product is
linked to a specific geographical area, instead it must
be of a “specific character”, and either its raw materi-
als, production method or processing must be “tradi-
tional”. All of these products are usually more expen-
sive than similar ones, and so they are often subject to
In this paper we are proposing a traceability plat-
form, using blockchain, to trace PDO/PGI/TSG prod-
ucts from their origin to the final consumer. The
proposed platform helps assuring the source of the
products and avoiding forgeries. Providing means for
traceability is essential to provide transparency and
Alves, L., Carvalhido, T., Cruz, E. and Rosado da Cruz, A.
Using Blockchain to Trace PDO/PGI/TSG Products.
DOI: 10.5220/0010482503680376
In Proceedings of the 23rd International Conference on Enterprise Information Systems (ICEIS 2021) - Volume 2, pages 368-376
ISBN: 978-989-758-509-8
2021 by SCITEPRESS Science and Technology Publications, Lda. All rights reserved
create trust in the consumers about the product qual-
ity and sustainability (da Cruz and Cruz, 2020; Jepps-
son and Olsson, 2017; Tian, 2017). For this platform,
we are using the Hyperledger Fabric blockchain. The
blockchain technology, seen as one of the technolo-
gies that better fits the needs of traceability in supply
chains, is a distributed technology, owned by none of
the peers that enables transparent and immutable in-
formation. It allows registering all chain activities in
a distributed, transparent, secure and trustful manner
(da Cruz and Cruz, 2020).
The structure of the presentation is as follows: In
the next section, related work is presented, namely
applied research on food traceability platforms and
on using blockchains for traceability. Section 3 ad-
dresses the development of the proposed Blockchain-
based platform, focusing on the smart contract. Sec-
tion 4 presents the platform architecture and identi-
fies the needed front-end applications to use those ser-
vices. A proof-of-concept application, which has been
built to test our approach, is also addressed. In section
5, some conclusions are drawn and some ideas for fu-
ture work are disclosed.
In 2015, as part of the 2030 Agenda for Sustain-
able Development, the United Nations created a set
of goals for sustainability (UN, 2019). One of these
goals is waste less food and support local farmers. For
this, some platforms have been created to ensure and
certify the origin of certain products for “supporting
local farmers” and to prevent forgeries, as is the case
of (Regattieri et al., 2007; Bachev, 2016; Bevilacqua
et al., 2009). Additionally, some authorities are re-
quiring the registration and control of the origin of
certain food products (Regulation no 178/2002 of the
European parliament and of the council, 2002), im-
proving products traceability. So, several proposals
for the implementation of traceability have been car-
ried out within food value chains. Some of these pro-
posals are presented below.
2.1 Food Traceability Platforms
Traditional products try, most of the times, to pre-
serve the origin of production and the manufacturing
process, in order to preserve traditional characteristics
such as quality, flavor, texture, etc. The processes can,
however, be slightly altered to improve hygiene and
health safety, working conditions or animal welfare.
These products are generally more expensive and are
therefore more subject to forgery.
Hrabrin Bachev studies and assesses the sustain-
ability of farming enterprises in Bulgaria. His study
includes evaluating economic, ecological and social
aspects of farming enterprises’ sustainability (Bachev,
In (Regattieri et al., 2007) the authors propose
a platform to support the traceability of the Italian
“Parmigiano Reggiano” PDO cheese, from the bovine
farm to the final consumer. The developed system col-
lects data in all identified steps of the food chain and
stores it in a centralized database.
Bevilacqua et al. re-engineered the business
processes of vegetables supply chain and created
a system for managing those products’ traceabil-
ity (Bevilacqua et al., 2009).
In (da Cruz et al., 2019; Cruz et al., 2019) the au-
thors propose a traceability platform for the fish and
fishery value chain. The platform registers, in a cen-
tralized database, all the activities of the value chain
from sea to fork, namely from the capture of fish or
aquaculture production, to the purchasing activity of
the final consumer, going through all other activities
of the value chain, such as transport, storage, interme-
diate sale or industrial transformation.
2.2 Traceability using Blockchain
Nowadays blockchain is seen as one of the technolo-
gies that better fits the needs of traceability in a supply
chain (da Cruz and Cruz, 2020; Jeppsson and Olsson,
2017). In fact, the blockchain technology is being
used as a distributed database in many areas includ-
ing traceability in agriculture and food supply chains
(Saberi et al., 2019; Tian, 2017; Biswas et al., 2017;
Tan et al., 2019).
In recent years, many authors have used
blockchain technology to implement traceability in
value chains. According to Ruoti et al., blockchain
has strong points, such as shared governance and op-
erations, resilience to data loss, provenance tracking
and auditability (Ruoti et al., 2019).
Kamilaris et al. discuss the impact of blockchain
in agriculture and food supply chains. Blockchain is
seen as a technology that helps in adding transparency
in the food supply chain (Kamilaris et al., 2019).
Biswas et al. propose a blockchain-based plat-
form to trace the wine value chain, from its produc-
tion to the purchase history (Biswas et al., 2017).
Abderahman Rejeb implements traceability in the
Tilapia supply chain, from farmers to the final con-
sumers in Ghana (Rejeb, 2018). Tilapia is one of
the most consumed fish species in Ghana. The
Blockchain technology has been used to implement
Using Blockchain to Trace PDO/PGI/TSG Products
Figure 1: Inter-organizational Generic value chain business process model.
traceability of aquaculture fish (Rejeb, 2018).
In (da Cruz et al., 2020) the authors are using
blockchain technology to trace and calculate the car-
bon footprint of products and organizations. The au-
thors use a solidity smart contract to implement a
platform in Ethereum blockchain. The paper also
presents a distributed application for providing con-
sumers with information about the carbon footprint
of a product or organization stored in the blockchain.
In (Cruz and Cruz, 2020) the authors used the
Ethereum blockchain to implement traceability in fish
and fishery value chains from harvest to final con-
Gao et al. created a system based on Hyperledger
Fabric to implement traceability in food value chain
in order to “solve food safety problems”. The sys-
tem stores and aggregates data from each participant
involved in the food supply chain (Gao et al., 2020).
In the PDO/PGI/TSG products value chain, con-
sumers want to be informed, not only about the parts
that make up the product they are buying, but also
about how and where these parts and the final prod-
uct have been created or manufactured. This way,
consumers can know if the certified product they are
buying has met all the certification requirements, and
which organizations were involved in the process.
3.1 Analysis
The Platform proposed in this paper is prepared to be
used by any organization in the PDO/PGI/TSG prod-
ucts’ value chain. Figure 1 shows the BPMN model
that represents the generic business process model of
the integrated PDO/PGI/TSG products’ value chain.
As we may see in the figure, several participants, like
producers, industries, retailers and logistics, are in-
volved. Each participant provides data about their
participation in the value chain (production, breed-
ing, transportation, manufacturing, storage, etc.), and
must indicate when, how and where their activity/task
has been performed. The activities performed by each
participant in the value chain are represented in Fig-
ure 1 by a message flow between the participant and
the activity. Since we are working on the blockchain,
the data entered can not be changed, making it more
difficult to tamper, or falsify the data. This way, the
value chain provides more transparent and reliable in-
formation to the end consumer.
As a specific example, Figure 2 shows a BPMN
model that represents the inter-organizational busi-
ness process for the “Serra da Estrela” PDO cheese
value chain. It depicts the activities that each organi-
zation in the value chain needs to register on the trace-
ability platform. Serra da Estrela PDO cheese is man-
ufactured from sheeps’ milk. The sheeps, from “Bor-
daleira da Serra da Estrela” or “Churra Mondegueira”
breeds, graze in spontaneous pastures of the largest
and highest mountain in mainland Portugal, with the
same name as the cheese.
There are few producers of sheep’s milk and they
are properly identified and cataloged. These, and only
these producers, deliver the milk to the cheese facto-
ries on a daily basis. After checking the quality of
the milk, the thistle flower previously grounded with
salt is added to it and the milk is heated up to 30 ºC
for about 1 hour. Then the mix goes through a set
of steps like curd cut, serum removal, molding and
pressing and maturation. In the end, a new batch of
cheeses is ready, and it is numbered and registered in
the platform. After registration, the new batch may
be stored or sold. After a sale there is always a trans-
ICEIS 2021 - 23rd International Conference on Enterprise Information Systems
Figure 2: Inter-organizational business process for the ”Serra da Estrela” PDO Cheese value chain.
Figure 3: The use case model for the platform.
portation and, after that, the quality is verified again.
The previous example is for a PDO product, where
every products and activities need to be produced in
a designated region. Other types of products, such as
PGI and TSG, have less restrict requirements.
The proposed platform allows the registration of
activities in the three previously mentioned types of
certified products. The use case model, modeling the
functionalities that each user in the traceability plat-
form must be able to access, is shown in Figure 3.
There are five types of user: A SysAdmin main-
tains organizations (value chain operators), and has
other administrative tasks; an Organizational Admin
maintains the worker/users of a given organization; an
Organizational Worker is an organization’s user that
may register activities for their organization; a Cer-
tification Entity creates or updates certified organiza-
tions for a given product and certification type; and, a
Final consumer may consult the traceability informa-
tion in the platform.
The identified platform functionalities act on
data that will be put into the Hyperledger Fabric
blockchain. Figure 4 shows the domain entities’
model of the PDO/PGI/TSG traceability problem.
These entities are implemented in the blockchain con-
tract through Participants, Assets and Transactions re-
source types, using the Hyperledger Composer tools.
The next subsection explains the implementation of
the platform depicted in these models, using the Hy-
perledger Fabric blockchain and the Composer tools.
3.2 The Platform Design
For developing the platform, Hyperledger Composer
has been used. This, comprises a set of tools
for creating smart contracts on Hyperledger Fab-
ric blockchain. In Hyperledger Composer, a busi-
ness network (BN) is a model of all the data in the
Using Blockchain to Trace PDO/PGI/TSG Products
Figure 4: PDO/PGI/TSG domain model.
blockchain which includes all the objects, functions,
transactions and identities that will connect to each
other and be saved on the ledger. It is basically an ab-
straction of the chaincode that will be installed onto
A BN, defined as a network model, can be de-
ployed into an instance that runs on a certain num-
ber of nodes. Composer features a modeling language
that makes it easy to define a business network. It is
divided into four main components: Model, Script,
Access Control and Query.
The BN definition is then packaged and exported
into a Business Network Archive (.bna file) that can
be deployed into an instance of Hyperledger Fabric or
a Web Browser using ID Cards that contain connec-
tion profiles and credentials
(see Figure 5).
Figure 5: Hyperledger Composer Diagram.
3.2.1 Model
This is where all the main data components are de-
fined. Assets correspond to the main objects, which
ICEIS 2021 - 23rd International Conference on Enterprise Information Systems
are handled in transactions, and they can represent a
variety of things. Participants are the types of users
that will be participating in the network. An instance
of a participant can be linked to a real identity of a per-
son/user or type of entity using the blockchain. Trans-
actions are data objects that model what information
must be registered about interactions between partici-
pants and involving assets.
These three types of components (Assets, Par-
ticipants and Transactions) have their own registry.
While the Assets and Participants registries are muta-
ble, the Transactions registry is not. The business net-
work model for Hyperledger Composer includes the
specifications for the model file (.cto), with the defi-
nitions of all class types participants, assets, transac-
tions and events, as well as the enumerated types and
Participants. For the PDO/PGI/TSG traceability
platform, the main participants are the value chain
operators, represented in Figure 1 as external partici-
pants, such as:
Producer: Raw material harvesting Operator;
Industry: Entity responsible for Industry activi-
ties (Quality Assessment, Transformation, Stor-
age, Sale and Discard)
Retailer: Entity responsible for Retailer activities
(Storage and Sale and or Discard);
Logistics: Operator for transportation purposes
between any two entities;
Besides these, there are two more participants in the
value chain. One is a Certification Entity Author-
ity, which is a EU organization that creates certified
products and certifies industries and producers for
PDO/PGI/TSG products. Only certified organizations
may create and register certified products’ batches.
The other is the End Consumer, that is any person who
wants to check the product batch traceability.
Hyperledger Composer Participants are defined as
presented next for the Producer:
abstract participant ValueChainOperator
identified by operatorId{ ... }
participant Producer extends
--> Certification certification optional
Assets. Another integral component of the system
are the Assets. These correspond to data entities
that, along with Participants, will be persisted in the
blockchain, and that will be manipulated in the trans-
actions. To register products’ batches traceability,
these products and batches need to be modeled as as-
Certification: A certified designation of type
PDO, PGI or TSG (e.g.: ”Serra da Estrela”
Cheese PDO);
Batch: A product batch, on which different oper-
ators will act upon;
Product: The product that a batch refers to;
Certified Product: A specific type of
PDO/PGI/TSG product that may only be
created by certified operators.
These assets are defined as:
asset Certification
identified by certificationNumber{
o String certificationNumber
o String name
o CertificationType certificationType
o String[] regions optional
o String[] requirements
--> CertifyingEntity creatorEntity
asset Product identified by GTIN {
o String GTIN // Global Trade Item Number
o String name
o String description
--> ValueChainOperator creator
asset CertifiedProduct extends Product {
--> Certification certification
asset Batch identified by batchId {
o String batchId
o DateTime creationDate
o DateTime expirationDate
--> Product product
--> ValueChainOperator currentOwner
Transactions. Transactions, in Hyperledger Fabric,
correspond to information that is to be persisted in-
side blocks and protected through a chained struc-
ture (the ledger). Thus, while participants and assets
model users and data entities in the system, transac-
tions model the business information that relates and
implies participants and assets.
In the context of the traceability platform being
proposed, transactions are information registered by
the value chain operators (participants). These trans-
actions are presented in Figure 1 as data stores and
correspond to information stored during the execution
of the following value chain activities:
Production Registration: The Producer registers
the information about the batch of the harvested
raw material.
Using Blockchain to Trace PDO/PGI/TSG Products
Register Quality Assessment: The indus-
try/retailer checks a batch’s quality and whether
it meets the PDO/PGI/TSG requirements and
records the information about it.
Transformation: The Industry stores information
about one or more input batches to create a new
product batch.
Storage: The Industry/Retailer stores information
about a batch storage condition.
Sale: Industry/Retailer register a sale. It involves
a different Industry/Retailer (seller and buyer).
Transport: Logistics transaction of transporting
the batches from one operator to another.
Discard: The information about a batch (or part of
it) that is not in condition of being used.
The transactions are declared on the Hyperledger
Composer model file. Below, the Task abstract trans-
action, that is a super “class” of every other transac-
tion in our platform, and BatchTask, another abstract
transaction, are defined:
abstract transaction Task {
o String taskId
o String description
o String message optional
o Address address
abstract transaction BatchTask extends Task{
--> Batch[] batches
Concrete transactions extend one of the above ab-
stractions. Below, ProductTransaction is defined.
This is created when a new product batch is regis-
transaction ProductRegistration extends Task{
// Register a single batch on the network
// Task parameters
o String name default = ’Product Regist.’
o String[] processes optional
--> ValueChainOperator currentOperator
// New batch parameters
o String batchId
o Double amount range = [0.001,]
o Units unit
o DateTime expirationDate
--> Product product
Other transactions are Transformation, Qual-
ityAssessement, Storage, Sale, Transport and
Discard, as identified in the domain model in Figure
Enums, Concepts and Events. Other needed data
types, also present in the model file, are enumera-
tions (enum) and concepts (a kind of C-like struct data
type). These are non-instantiatable data-types.
Events can be emitted by the contract functions (in
the script file) and subscribed by applications, which
can handle them, for instance, to generate notifica-
3.2.2 Script
Composer uses a javascript (.js) file to implement the
contract’s functions. This is where the business rules
and logic of the network reside. This script file can be
found in, to-
gether with the rest of the proof-of-concept project
3.2.3 Access Rules
Composer features the concept of Participant, a net-
work instance of the class that represents a user, but it
also features identity cards, which are files that func-
tion as the private key and identification card for a
user. An identity card and an instance of a partici-
pant can be linked to each other. Control rules may
be defined to reflect what actions are allowed to cer-
tain participant class types, to specific participant in-
stances, and even to specific identity cards.
An example rule, that prevent value chain oper-
ators to create and delete other operators, is shown
rule deny_ValueChainOper_CREATE_DELETE_VCO {
description: "Operator can’t delete Opers"
participant: "org.gitseu.ValueChainOperator"
operation: CREATE, DELETE
resource: "org.gitseu.ValueChainOperator"
action: DENY
3.2.4 Queries
The smart contract’s functions, in the script file, are
used for executing actions on the Assets and other
model structures, but are not able to fetch or query
data from the contract data structures. Hyperledger
Composer allows to automatically retrieve all the data
of each asset, participant and transaction structures,
defined in the model file, but any result producing
query must be defined in the queries’ file. With that
in mind, we decided not to implement queries in the
contract, since they were not able to implement trace-
ability features. Instead, we work the automatically
retrieved data in functions in the script file.
ICEIS 2021 - 23rd International Conference on Enterprise Information Systems
Figure 6: Traceability graph visualization in the proof-of-concept web app.
Hyperledger Composer enables the quickly creation
of “full-stack” blockchain solutions, comprising the
blockchain-based business logic and REST APIs that
expose that logic to web or mobile applications or for
integrating with existing enterprise systems. The pro-
posed platform uses the following frameworks:
Hyperledger Fabric: blockchain framework that
acts as a foundation for developing blockchain-
based products, solutions and applications using
plug-and-play components that are aimed for be-
ing used within organizations.
Hyperledger Composer: framework that runs on a
layer above the Hyperledger Fabric. The Com-
posers’ Web Playground is a premade web ap-
plication for quickly testing the .bna file com-
ponents (model.cto, script.js, permissions.acl and
query.qry). Hyperledger Composer includes a
standalone Node.js process that exposes a busi-
ness network as a REST API;
A proof-of-concept application has been built for test-
ing the Hyperledger Composer smart contract, run-
ning on top of the Hyperledger Fabric blockchain.
For this application, the following components have
been used: Passport - authentication middleware
for Node.js; Angular - open-source web applica-
tion framework; Sigma - JavaScript library for graph
drawing; Yeoman - scaffolding tool for generating a
skeleton webapp for starting development.
A set of activities’ registrations have been made,
by using the smart contract through the application.
Figure 6 shows the result of a query made in the ap-
plication about the batches created and the types of
activities registered.
Applications to be built on top of the deployed
REST API, exposing the blockchain functions, are
needed. Future work will address applications for:
End consumers, to be able to consult the traceabil-
ity of any batch number. There may be a personal
mobile app for the consumers, and a Kiosk-like
app to be available at retail points;
Value chain operators, to be able to integrate with
the traceability platform even if they do not have
their ERP system integrated with the platform.
Of course, integrating some ERP systems with the
traceability platform will ease the process of feeding
traceability information to the platform.
This paper proposes a blockchain-based platform,
that allows tracking products with a PDO/PGI/TSG
Using Blockchain to Trace PDO/PGI/TSG Products
certification, from their creation to the final consumer,
by implementing traceability in the value chains of
these products. The proposed platform uses a smart
contract on the Hyperledger Fabric blockchain.
Blockchain is a technology suitable for traceabil-
ity, where each operator has their copy of the data,
allowing all operators to work together even without
having to trust each other completely. The value chain
operators can share blockchain governance and opera-
tions. The consensus mechanism allows an agreement
between those operators (peers) about the information
that is to be persisted in the system. And, as the data
is stored and replicated in each peer node, resilience
to data loss and data tampering is assured.
PDO/PGI/TSG products bear a seal with a code
sequence that identifies the certification entity, the
registered company, certification mark, etc. However,
the consumer is often unaware of the real origin of
the product. Besides that, the seal can be forged. By
accessing the proposed traceability platform, the fi-
nal consumer (or any business partner) may know in
which value chain operator the product was created
and the entire route taken by it so far. The platform
also allows to improve communication and the coor-
dination between the involved parties, and the integra-
tion and sharing of information in the value chain.
In order for the final consumer, the authorities, or
any business partner, to easily access the information
stored on the blockchain, a proof-of-concept web ap-
plication has been created to provide the traceability
information in an easy and user-friendly environment.
As future work, we intend to further develop the
proposed system, by developing the previously iden-
tified front-end applications, and to implement the
smart contract using other blockchain frameworks, in
order to study and compare them.
This research work has been developed as a curricular
project by the first two authors, and has been funded
by project ValorMar - Valorizac¸
ao Integral dos Recur-
sos Marinhos - POCI-01-0247-FEDER-024517.
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