Blockchain Food Safety Alliance Formed By IBM, Walmart and

Announcements, Blockchain, Group | December 14, 2017 By:

Tech giant IBM, retailer Walmart, China mobile solutions provider and Tsinghua University National Engineering Laboratory for E-Commerce Technologies have joined forces to create the Blockchain Food Safety Alliance, which will enhance food tracking, tracing, and safety in China.

In August, IBM and Walmart announced a major collaboration with a group of leading companies across the global food supply chain. The consortium includes Dole, Driscoll’s, Golden State Foods, Kroger, McCormick and Company, McLane Company, Nestlé, Tyson Foods and Unilever. The latest collaboration will bring IBM’s blockchain food safety expertise to China.

The Blockchain Food Safety Alliance’s goal is to develop a standards-based method of collecting data on the origin, safety, and authenticity of food using blockchain technology. This will help provide real-time tracing throughout the supply chain, encourage accountability, and give suppliers, regulators, and consumers greater insight and transparency into how food is handled, from the farm to consumers.

The Alliance members will work with food supply chain providers and regulators to develop the standards, solutions and partnerships to enable a broad-based food safety ecosystem in China. The group will utilize IBM’s blockchain platform and expertise, while Tsinghua University will act as a technical adviser sharing its expertise in the key technologies and the China food safety ecosystem. Walmart and JD, a business-to-consumer e-commerce platform, will roll out the technology to suppliers and retailers that join the Alliance.

IBM said the insights gained from the work in China will shed light on how blockchain technology can help improve processes such as recalls and verifications and enhance consumer confidence due to greater transparency in China and around the world.

IBM, Walmart, and Tsinghua University have already piloted the use of blockchain to trace food items, including pork in China and mangoes in the US, as they move through the supply chain to store shelves. Recent testing by Walmart showed that applying blockchain reduced the time it took to trace a package of mangoes from the farm to the store from days or weeks to two seconds.

Frank Yiannas, vice president, food safety and health at Walmart, said that the company is looking forward to deepening their work with IBM, Tsinghua University, JD and others throughout the food supply chain.

“Through collaboration, standardization, and adoption of new and innovative technologies, we can effectively improve traceability and transparency and help ensure the global food system remains safe for all,” Yiannas said.

Bridget van Kralingen, senior vice president of IBM Industry Platforms, said that blockchain holds incredible promise in delivering the transparency that is needed to help promote food safety across the whole supply chain. This is a fundamental reason why IBM believes so strongly in the impact this technology will have on business models.

“By expanding our food safety work with Walmart and Tsinghua University in China and adding new collaborators like, the technology brings traceability and transparency to a broader network of food supply chain participants,” said Kralingen.