Walmart Partners with IBM and Others to Explore Blockchain Tech for Food Supply Chain

Posted by at 9:38 am on August 22, 2017

Walmart and a group of food giants are teaming up with IBM to explore how to apply blockchain technology, also known as distributed ledger tech, to their food supply chains. The coalition includes retailers and food companies such as Unilever, Nestlé , and Dole. They will be aiming to use blockchains, a technology that made its name as the basis of the cryptocurrency Bitcoin, to maintain secure digital records and improve the traceability of their foodstuffs, like chicken, chocolate, and bananas.

These companies see blockchains as an opportunity to revamp their data management processes across a complex network that includes farmers, brokers, distributors, processors, retailers, regulators, and consumers. One potential benefit: investigations into food-borne illnesses to take weeks, but a blockchain-based system has the ability to reduce that time to seconds.

Walmart has already run two blockchain experiments in partnership with IBM. The first involved tracking Chinese pork. The second, involved tracing Mexican mangoes. For the trials Walmart used Hyperledger Fabric, a blockchain originally built by IBM and now housed under the Linux Foundation’s Hyperledger group. This is the preferred blockchain of IBM, which has been marshaling clients to try the tech across industries as varied as private equity, banking, government, and healthcare.

The industry group, debuting today, also includes members Kroger, McCormick and Company, McLane Company, Driscoll’s, Tyson Foods, and Golden State Foods. Although the group has not yet announced any new blockchain trials, it is expected they will in short order.

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