IBM, Walmart Blockchain Initiative Plans to Track Global Food Supply Chain

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The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) reported on June 25, Walmart and nine different organization have partnered with IBM to release a blockchain for tracking food globally through its supply chain.

The Food Trust blockchain, which incorporates Dole Food Co., Nestlé SA, Golden State Foods, Driscoll’s Inc., Kroger Co., Tyson Foods Inc, McCormick and Co., Unilever NV and McLane Co., has been partnering with IBM on the initiative since 2016 and started conducting trials of the product in August of last year.

The WSJ said that the Food Trust’s goal is to enhance the company’s ability to identify issues involved with food recalls, such as tracing outbreaks more quickly to limit customer risk.

Mr. Frank Yiannas, Walmart’s vice president of food safety, referred to the Food Trust Blockchain as the “equivalent of FedEx tracking for food,”

“You’re capturing real-time data at every point, on every single food product.”

However, the brands involved may be competitors in some cases, Mr. Chris Tyas, global head of supply chain at Nestlé stated that regardless, they are “working together to ensure the trust of consumers.”

As per IBM, the Food Trust system stores the data of about 1 million items, notably remarking Nestlé canned pumpkin, Driscoll’s strawberries and Tyson chicken thighs.

The WSJ writes that the blockchain was not ready in time to assist in tracking the E.coli-contaminated romaine lettuce in the US that has affected more than 197 people across five states. Yiannis notes that even if it takes years for the food industry to completely adopt blockchain technology, in the future “outbreaks don’t have to be this big and this long.”

Suzat Fernandes

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