After 18 months of testing, IBM‘s blockchain-based food tracking network, dubbed IBM Food Trust has been released for commercial use. According to the official statement, millions of food products have been tracked during the trial, as the cloud network, “offers participating retailers, suppliers, growers and food industry providers with data from across the food ecosystem to enable greater traceability, transparency and efficiency.“
The platform has already secured its first big name partner with leading European retailer Carrefour joining the fray. The retailer runs over 12,000 stores in 33 countries and will implement the IBM Food Trust to track the number of its own branded products in France, Brazil and Spain. It is estimated that the blockchain platform will be used for all Carrefour brands globally by 2022.
Laurent Vallée, general secretary of Carrefour, praised the new partnership, claiming that, “Being a founding member of the IBM Food Trust platform is a great opportunity for Carrefour to accelerate and widen the integration of blockchain technology to our products in order to provide our clients with safe and undoubted traceability.“
IBM Food Trust allows members from all stages of the supply chain (from growers to suppliers to retailers) to share information about the food, including origin details, shipping information, etc. on a permissioned blockchain network. All data on the distributed ledger will be encrypted, meaning only those given permission will be able to access the said data.
The main goal of the blockchain initiative is to make food safer by tracing its origin. However, there are more benefits to it, as the Food Trust is expected to optimize the supply chain by providing insights on product freshness, waste reduction and transparency. The decentralized nature of the system will encourage collaboration and increase the overall trust between various members of the supply chain.
Bridget van Kralingen, senior VP at IBM added that, “The currency of trust today is transparency and achieving it in the area of food safety happens when responsibility is shared. […]That collaborative approach is how the members of IBM Food Trust have shown blockchain can strengthen transparency and drive meaningful enhancements to food traceability. Ultimately that provides business benefits for participants and a better and safer product for consumers.“
IBM Food Trust is currently one of the largest enterprise-level blockchain networks around and is a great example that distributed ledger technology can be applied not only to cryptocurrencies but real world use cases as well.
The platform is now available for food enterprises worldwide, with subscription prices ranging from $100 to $10,000 per month. Joining Carrefour in the first wave of adopters are cooperatives Topco Associates and Wakefern who represent over 15,000 stores and suppliers BeefChain, Scoular, Smithfield and Dennick Fruit Source.
Other big names have already joined the initiative earlier, including multinational giants such as Walmart, Dole Food and Nestle among others. Last month, Walmart issued a statement to all its leafy-green suppliers, saying they must start using IBM Food Trust by September 2019.
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