The French grocery chain Carrefour is looking to bring its stores into the 21st century through the introduction of blockchain technology. This comes as Walmart is already working with a consortium of other actors to develop and implement a similar system. Carrefour hopes that the new system will drastically improve food safety, through making strides related to traceability and reducing food waste.
Carrefour’s system will enable consumers to easily see how the relevant products have been sourced, transported, and so forth. The initiative will initially apply specifically to chickens, however, it is easy to see the potential applications for all groceries. Consumers will potentially be able to gauge the quality of life for the chicken they intend to purchase, complete with what sort of diet it had and what living-conditions it was subject to.
The entire project utilizes blockchain technology, to maximize transparency and to facilitate easy information sharing. However, the main hurdle to clear is that of human error. Blockchain technology is not immune to human mistakes, and since the information regarding the chickens needs to be entered manually, some are worried that this might allow actors to consciously manipulate the food chain.
Whether or not this ends up happening remains to be seen, however, one thing is sure – that this will enable a greater degree of customer freedom, and boost transparency on how food is sourced. The aim is to allow consumers to scan the label of a product with one’s smartphone, and instantly receive all the relevant information. Carrefour is rolling out the technology right now, but it hopes to be able to cover all its products by 2022, as a part of the Carrefour 2022 transformation plan.
Moreover, the US grocery behemoth that is Walmart is exploring similar technologies. Walmart is reportedly working with Unilever, Nestlé, Tyson Foods and Dole Food in developing a brand new blockchain platform for use in the grocery sector. Carrefour, on the other hand, has developed its own proprietary blockchain platform to track food and improve sourcing transparency.
On the Walmart side of things, Walmart’s vice president for food safety and health is claiming that the blockchain can help prevent the spread of disease through food, and on top of this make any recall more efficient. According to Walmart’s aforementioned executive, the US economy could gain approximately $700 million dollars from boosted productivity for every 1 percent reduction diseases spread by food.
Blockchain information could also pave the way for more accurate shelf lives of different products, and be interpreted in conjunction with the shelf temperature and historical information. Whilst it is unclear exactly how far-reaching the effects of this will be on grocery stores all around the world, it is not hard to see why Carrefour is exploring this possibility.
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