Securing Food on a Blockchain: Walmart, Nestlé, Unilever Partner IBM

August 23, 2017 15:29 UTC

Technology giant IBM has partnered the biggest names in the global food supply chain to launch a new blockchain consortium focused on food safety.

Some of the world’s biggest retailers and food companies are now working with IBM to identify key areas of the global food supply chain that can benefit from blockchain technology. The working group sees blockchain as the solution to improve food traceability and transparency in the supply chain. The consortium’s members include Dole, Driscoll’s, Golden State Foods, Kroger, McCormick and Company, McLane Company, Tyson Foods, Nestlé, Unilever and Walmart, working in partnership with technology provider and developer IBM.

“Unlike any technology before it, blockchain is transforming the way like-minded organizations come together and enable a new level of trust based on a single view of truth,” stated Marie Wieck, general manager of IBM Blockchain.

The ultimate goal will see all participants in the global food supply chain – growers, suppliers, processors, distributors, retailers, regulators and consumers – gain permissioned access to every point of data from the origin to the sale of the food product.  IBM will provide its blockchain tech via its IBM Cloud platform for the consortium’s efforts.

Frank Yiannas, vice president of food safety at Walmart stated:

Blockchain technology enables a new era of end-to-end transparency in the global food system- equivalent to shining a light on food ecosystem participants that will further promote responsible actions and behaviors.

Traceability in Seconds

IBM has already conducted blockchain pilots across a number of industries around the world including trade, pharma, retail and more. In October 2016, Walmart partnered IBM to digitally track the movement of pork in China, a nation which has seen a number of food safety scandals in recent years. The trials revealed that tracking a product from the very farm it originated from to the retailer’s shelf could be achieved in seconds, rather than days or several weeks.

Such efficiency can help food providers and retailers to trace a contaminated product to its very source in a matter of seconds to issue an effective food recall and stop the spread of diseases and illnesses.

Other notable efforts of tracking food supply on a blockchain include the United Nations’ World Food Programme (WFP) tapping the Ethereum blockchain, a Taiwanese e-commerce platform also using the Ethereum blockchain in its own supply chain and an Arkansas livestock farmers cooperative using blockchain tech to trace meat through the supply chain.

Featured image from Flickr/IBM Media.

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