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How the unassuming QR code is changing the food industry

Before long consumers will expect the entire food supply chain to be fully transparent in real-time QR codes have been in our lives for a long time. Before the pandemic, we used them a few times a year on average. Now, most Canadians will use a QR code…

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Before long consumers will expect the entire food supply chain to be fully transparent in real-time

QR codes have been in our lives for a long time. Before the pandemic, we used them a few times a year on average. Now, most Canadians will use a QR code almost every week and, in some cases, daily. Implications for the food industry could be significant.

Once deemed a clever tool used occasionally, mostly for marketing, the QR code can not only change how the food industry exchanges data with consumers, it could also change our expectations of how transparent our food supply chain can really become.

QR (quick response) codes were developed in 1994 in Japan for the automotive sector, which needed a larger data storage capacity than offered by the standard UPC code found on most products we buy. Other sectors quickly took note of the QR code’s advantages, including the food industry.

For years, the food industry has tried to figure out how to make the entire food chain more transparent, so consumers can understand what’s in the food they purchase at stores and in restaurants. How to convey the origin of all ingredients embedded in food products is no easy task unless consumers can intuitively use a piece of technology.

The pandemic reminded us that we had the solution all along.

A recent survey by Dalhousie University estimates that three in five Canadians have used QR codes at a restaurant or a grocery store in the last month. They’ve used them for payment services, marketing and other functions. That means almost 39 per cent don’t use QR codes, although that percentage is much lower among millennials and members of Generation Z.

The overall rate of usage in Canada is arguably much higher than before the pandemic.

To eliminate human contact, the QR code became a household application for much of the food industry during the pandemic.

Since most of us have smartphones, access to data like menus, prices, instructions or schedules via QR codes gave everyone a chance to live in a touchless world.

The technology was always available to eliminate paper-based documents. But QR codes can do much more. In fact, the possibilities are virtually endless.

For years, we’ve seen companies use blockchain technologies and QR codes as part of their food traceability strategy. With the hyper-digitization of the food industry, some retailers have used these codes, with mixed results.

In Europe and Asia, the use of QR codes is quite common. Retailers Carrefour in Europe and Germany’s Metro are already using them for more supply chain transparency. In North America, it was seen more as a novelty and fun feature for tech-savvy consumers to use. This may well change after the pandemic.

COVID-19 has made the use of QR codes more of a mainstream application that can open doors to a variety of new possibilities.

The pandemic has made consumers more conscious of what goes on within the supply chain before food gets to store shelves or restaurants. People are concerned about workers’ wages and welfare in farm processing. To make better food choices, they also want to know more about ingredients and how they can increase their local purchases.

In turn, the industry can learn more from consumers through more data trading between us and industry. This could lead to more market-based innovation, which is always beneficial.

Better traceability can also eliminate food fraud and make the entire food supply chain more transparent. But the QR code can’t guarantee this happens.

QR-based solutions, due to the inherent ease of imitation, might even encourage counterfeiting and turn out to be more hazardous than adopting no solution at all. QR codes are cheap and incredibly easy to make and allow for data to be shared easily.

Within a few years, consumers will expect the entire food supply chain to be fully transparent in real-time, and the industry will need to be ready. Because of the relevance we gave to the codes during the pandemic, QR could become the consumer’s portal to the obscure part of the food industry.

Regardless of whether QR codes become the preferred solution, consumers now know the food industry can provide more transparency by empowering them via their smartphones. And that will raise consumer expectations.

By Sylvain Charlebois
Professor
Dalhousie University

Dr. Sylvain Charlebois is senior director of the agri-food analytics lab and a professor in food distribution and policy at Dalhousie University.

Courtesy of Troy Media.

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Crypto

NFTs could mark a resurgence in art galleries

Cointelegraph spoke to the founder of a London art gallery to discuss the cultural implications of welcoming NFTs into traditional art spaces.
For decades, art galleries and museum exhibitions around the world have facilitated the…

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Cointelegraph spoke to the founder of a London art gallery to discuss the cultural implications of welcoming NFTs into traditional art spaces.

For decades, art galleries and museum exhibitions around the world have facilitated the presence of cultural education, social interaction and visual moments of awe. 

Michelangelo's Sistine Chapel, Georgia O'Keeffe's Black Iris III and Picasso's Weeping Woman have all inspired generations of art-lovers in their own pursuits of life, creative or else.

However, since the turn of the century — grossly impacted by seismic shifts in digital behaviors, economic uncertainties and enduring complaints of exclusivity — art galleries have seemingly depreciated in societal appeal. 

A piece by Arts Professional in late-2017 exposed the decline in visitor numbers to London’s most prominent art attractions, a damning paradox to the year’s record tourism to the city.

After last year’s pandemic victimized the human convergence to physical environments, this disheartening fortune can only be further concluded.

In spite of this, a nascent art form emerging rapidly into the mainstream could hold promise for a resurgence throughout the sector. And that artform is, of course, nonfungible tokens (NFTs).

Founded upon principles of decentralization, verified provenance and spatial autonomy, this community could well become the primary impetus behind the next generation of artistic showcasing.

These creatives inhabit a world where art is pixelated, frames are virtual, outliers and mavericks are embraced as the norm, and Punks are regarded as highly as Picassos.

Birthed in 2017, Crypto Punks became the pioneer of NFT culture, permeating the mainstream to represent modern symbols of status and social esteem.

Photo courtesy of HOFA Gallery.

Central to the internet's iconography, these avant-garde avatars have now inspired off-springs such as Bored Ape Yacht Club and Cool Cats, among many others. 

NFTs have emerged in a time of blurred boundaries between our physical and digital worlds. A debate often posed is whether art belongs in physical galleries, on online screens, or even in the virtual metaverse. This is a conversation that will continue to evolve every day, as new opinions and ideas shape the cultural landscape.

The NFT space has witnessed parabolic growth over the last twelve months. Leading NFT marketplace OpenSea registered a colossal $4B in trading volume across August 2020 and reportedly hosted 98% of the entire market's transactions with just 37 staff members.

NFTs have already attracted a plethora of corporate giants, including Visa, Nike and the NBA, as well as global sports stars Tom Brady, Steph Curry and Lionel Messi. A punk pin badge was even featured at the Met Gala last week on the apparel of Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian.

With this renewed appreciation for artistic expression and excitement for its medium's potential, art galleries and museums that seek to embrace innovation could find themselves on the cusp of a renaissance.

Cointelegraph spoke to Elio D’Anna, the founder of HOFA — a London-based gallery steeped in crypto history — to discuss the cultural significance of inviting nonfungible art into traditional spaces.

The fact that artists are working with digital mediums to create visuals, renderings and computer graphic generated art, really opens a whole new layer to how we perceive art and the world.

The gallery will open a public showcase over the coming weeks in collaboration with Studio37 to display $64M worth of NFT art, including six of twenty-four ultra-rare CryptoPunks. The pieces will be printed as 41 x 41cm lithographs and signed by John Watkinson, the co-founder of Larva Labs.

In addition to the print — which is stamped with a red punk seal of approval — the piece will contain a 12-word seed phrase granting the buyer access to the digital ERC-721 token.

Photo courtesy of HOFA Gallery.

Amongst all the recent hype and plaudits, one of the most crucial acquisitions of the nonfungible token market has been equal recognition against its revered contemporaries.

This is why it was a seminal moment to witness prestigious auction house Sotheby's public immersion into the space. They became the first auction house to accept payments of BTC and ETH in May and continued on to facilitate NFT events such as the sale of World Wide Web source code.

More recently, Sotheby's hosted a sale collection of 101 Bored Apes and six mutant serums for $24.39 million, a value that defied all expectations on the night.

In our conversation, HOFA gallery founder D’Anna also commented on the choice of Punk, Ape and Fidenza NFTs within the exhibition and why it was important to select 'blue-chip' works.

They are a historical creation of unique pieces that will be talked about for years to come. Having one of the first-ever collectibles from this new NFT world is rare, and part of the reason why people are so keen to collect them.

The 'Portrait of an Era' exhibition will be accessible in-person, online through the HOFA mobile app, as well as through virtual reality.

Virtual and augmented technologies seek to offer audiences a uniquely immersive three-dimensional experience across a multitude of visual entertainment sectors.

The Museum of Crypto Art is a metaverse gallery that opened in April 2020 in Somnium Space on the Ethereum blockchain. It displays a vast collection of tokenized art that museum connoisseurs have purchased as nonfungible tokens.

The museum ranked 20th in Cointelegraph’s 2020 annual list of most influential figures in crypto and blockchain and launched a native token on Polygon in May to encourage governance within the space. 

Towards the end of our conversion, D’Anna shared his thoughts on the rise of the metaverse, and the potential impact that it may have on art galleries and museums worldwide.

I think we should always be open minded, and as such, I'm very interested in all new creations and expressions from the art world. Metaverses will emerge, but I still believe physical art will always reserve a very special place in everyone's collection.

The Portrait of an Era NFT exhibition will be publicly displayed at the HOFA Gallery in Mayfair, London between the 23rd Sept and 7th Oct. Registration is open and free.

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Spread & Containment

Long COVID: double vaccination halves risk of developing long-lasting symptoms

Want to avoid long COVID? Get vaccinated.

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Studio Romantic/Shutterstock

In unvaccinated people, around one in 20 who get symptomatic COVID-19 experience symptoms for at least eight weeks. Around one in 50 have symptoms that drag out for three months or more.

We wanted to know whether COVID-19 vaccines might protect against developing long-lasting symptoms. To find out, we looked at data provided by more than a million regular contributors to the COVID Symptom Study, a project in which members of the public log their symptoms via an app to help with research.

Our latest analysis of the study’s data, covering around 2 million vaccine doses, shows that vaccines significantly reduce the risk of catching COVID-19, with only 0.2% of those fully vaccinated later testing positive for the virus.

Even if you’re unlucky enough to catch the virus after being vaccinated, your chances of falling seriously ill or dying are slashed. Double-vaccinated people are 31% less likely to experience acute COVID-19 symptoms and 73% less likely to be hospitalised – a result that’s borne out in the relatively low hospitalisation and death rates we’re seeing now even as tens of thousands of people are still testing positive every day in the UK.

Reassuringly, for those who did fall ill with COVID-19 after being vaccinated, only around 5% went on to have symptoms that lasted for more than four weeks, meaning their chances of developing long COVID were cut by half. One of the best ways to reduce your risk of getting long COVID is to get fully vaccinated as soon as possible.

However, we did notice that frail older people and those living in more socially deprived areas were more likely to be infected and fall ill with COVID-19 after being vaccinated, especially if they had only had one vaccine dose. This suggests that we should prioritise further vaccination efforts and public health measures such as masking and social distancing among these groups, especially where infection rates are high and people are mixing and moving around.

Vaccines and long COVID

As the UK vaccination programme rolled out, we also started to notice anecdotal reports from people living with long COVID that their symptoms seemed to improve after being vaccinated.

The patient-led LongCovidSOS group chose to investigate this by surveying over 800 long COVID patients early in 2021. More than half of those surveyed noticed an overall improvement in their symptoms after vaccination, which then appeared to be sustained in about half of this group. Around a quarter of the overall respondents reported no difference and one-fifth said their symptoms had got worse. These findings have been released as a preprint, so haven’t yet been reviewed by other scientists, but they’ve been backed up by data from the COVID Symptom Study, which we’ll be publishing soon.

However, while there does seem to be some kind of link between receiving a COVID-19 vaccine and improvements in long COVID, it’s not clear exactly how the two are connected. It could be that the immune response triggered by the vaccine has a direct impact on symptoms.

Alternatively, it could just be that time has continued to pass since these people were originally infected and they’re experiencing a natural recovery from the virus. Or it could be a bit of both. Either way, more research is needed to tease out what’s going on.

A woman with long COVID lying on a bed, covering her face
There isn’t a definitive answer yet on whether vaccines can relieve people’s long COVID symptoms. True Touch Lifestyle/Shutterstock

What we can say is that COVID-19 vaccines certainly aren’t harmful for people with long COVID. What’s more, because we know that it’s possible to be reinfected with the virus, there’s a risk that catching it a second time could exacerbate symptoms for people living with long COVID and set them back even further. It’s therefore vital that we encourage anyone with long COVID who has not been vaccinated to do so as soon as possible, to help protect themselves and those around them.

A serious threat

Although the chances of developing long COVID after being vaccinated are small, this is a numbers game and a small percentage of a big number can still be substantial. As long as we are seeing tens of thousands of cases every day, we can still expect to see a substantial number of people living with lingering symptoms over the coming months.

This is particularly important for younger people, who may be less worried about hospitalisation or death, yet who can still be susceptible to the debilitating long-term effects of the virus. A lot can happen in a few months when you’re young, and long COVID can mean that people miss out on life-changing opportunities, like sitting an exam or taking up a new job, as well as the social activities that bring joy and wellbeing to life.

It’s likely that we’ll all be living with COVID-19 for some time to come. But with a combination of vaccination and public health measures where necessary, we can help to make sure that as few people as possible have to directly live with its life-limiting long-term effects.

Claire Steves consults for ZOE Ltd which is the company which developed the COVID Symptom Study together with King's College London. She receives funding from the Medical Research Council, the National Institute for Health Research, the Wellcome Trust and Chronic Disease Research Foundation.

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Airbnb Stock: Where it is Headed?

The rebound in travel amid the acceleration in vaccination rate and easing stay-at-home measures has given a solid boost to companies providing travel and lodging-related services, including Airbnb (ABNB). Thanks
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The post Airbnb Stock: Where.

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The rebound in travel amid the acceleration in vaccination rate and easing stay-at-home measures has given a solid boost to companies providing travel and lodging-related services, including Airbnb (ABNB).

Thanks to the improving operating environment, shares of Airbnb are on the move, gaining nearly 18% in one month. This growth is backed by the company’s robust financial performance, even when compared to its pre-pandemic levels. (See Airbnb stock charts on TipRanks)

It’s worth noting that Airbnb achieved its highest gross nights booked (nights booked before cancellations and alterations) in Q2 2021. Further, its gross bookings (GBV) of $13.4 billion were about 37% higher than in Q2 2019 (pre-COVID levels).

Thanks to the strong bookings, Airbnb’s top-line surged nearly 300% year-over-year. Also, it was 10% higher than the pre-pandemic levels. Airbnb noted that its adjusted EBIDTA improved, while its net loss narrowed. 

Despite the strong quarterly performance, investors who hold portfolios on TipRanks continue to reduce their holdings. For instance, TipRanks’ Stock Investors tool indicates that investors currently have a Very Negative outlook on Airbnb stock, with 5.4% of investors who hold portfolios on TipRanks decreasing their exposure over the past month. 

Investors’ pessimism over Airbnb stock likely stems from the rising cases of the coronavirus. The contagious delta variant of COVID-19 could dent Airbnb’s prospects in 2021. I maintain a Neutral view on Airbnb stock.

In fact, Airbnb stated that the “COVID-19 and the introduction and spread of new variants of the virus, including the Delta variant, will continue to affect overall travel behavior.” The company expects “year-over-year comparisons for Nights and Experiences Booked and GBV will continue to be more volatile.” 

Airbnb projects its Q3 2021 Nights and Experiences Booked to be lower than Q2 2021 and pre-COVID levels. However, a strong GBV backlog will likely fuel strong growth in revenues and adjusted EBITDA in Q3.

Ivan Feinseth of Tigress Financial termed the Delta variant a concern. However, Feinseth maintained his Buy rating on Airbnb stock and has a price target of $206 that suggests a 21.7% upside potential. 

Overall, on TipRanks, ABNB stock has an analyst rating consensus of Moderate Buy, based on 14 Buys, 7 Holds, and 1 Sell. The average Airbnb price target of $178.91 implies 5.7% upside potential to current levels.

Disclosure: On the date of publication, Amit Singh had no position in any of the companies discussed in this article.

Disclaimer: The information contained in this article represents the views and opinion of the writer only, and not the views or opinion of TipRanks or its affiliates, and should be considered for informational purposes only. TipRanks makes no warranties about the completeness, accuracy or reliability of such information. Nothing in this article should be taken as a recommendation or solicitation to purchase or sell securities. Nothing in the article constitutes legal, professional, investment and/or financial advice and/or takes into account the specific needs and/or requirements of an individual, nor does any information in the article constitute a comprehensive or complete statement of the matters or subject discussed therein. TipRanks and its affiliates disclaim all liability or responsibility with respect to the content of the article, and any action taken upon the information in the article is at your own and sole risk. The link to this article does not constitute an endorsement or recommendation by TipRanks or its affiliates. Past performance is not indicative of future results, prices or performance.

The post Airbnb Stock: Where it is Headed? appeared first on TipRanks Financial Blog.

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