Blockchain technology shows strong promise for drastically increasing efficiencies for supply chain management. In regards to food, these benefits could prove to do more than just save money, but save lives as well. By integrating physical technology such as RFID tags, new technologies will bring the consumer a level of transparency not yet seen in the industrial food system. This has two major benefits: reducing food waste, and increasing food safety.
“We are doing work in every single industry, and I learn something new every day, but one of the most exciting areas is our focus on food safety and ending food waste with the ultimate goal of alleviating world hunger. Every improvement you make in shelf life, traceability and prevention of disease helps to address the roughly 30% waste in the food supply chain. Can you imagine how many people you could feed with that extra food?” - Marie Wieck
IBM’s Food Trust
Last fall, IBM officially launched their blockchain based food supply chain management program to the public after 18 months of testing. This is just one of IBM’s many blockchain related endeavors. Two other notable actions by IBM are developing and implementing their own inhouse stablecoin for settling transactions, and joining Maersk shipping company to lead the way in an attempt to bring together the global shipping industry for a blockchain based systems upgrade.
Blockchain based technologies are still viewed in many instances for “hype” or more for marketing purposes than real-world applications. But IBM continues to prove that the technology is worth pursuing. Most recently, Albertsons Companies has joined the IBM Food Trust, a digital system for tracking and tracing food between retailers and suppliers. Albertsons is the world’s second-largest supermarket company by sales ($57 billion in sales in 2017). They operate over 2,300 stores in the U.S. which includes other chains such as Safeway, Vons, Jewel-Osco, Shaw’s, and Acme.
The Food Trust has been joined by other major companies such as Carrefour, Walmart, Nestle, Dole Food, Tyson Foods, Kroger and Unilever. As nearly the 80th major corporation to join the Food Trust, the first step for Albertsons will be a pilot program focusing on suppliers of romaine lettuce. This product has been involved in numerous outbreaks of E-coli, hospitalizing 96 people recently, including five deaths.
“I truly believe there’s power in numbers. Now all those big companies can come together and ask suppliers to come on the platform. We always had technology in supply chain but now with all the data you can gather the potential is there to take it a step further.” - Rucha Nanavati, group vice president for IT at Albertsons
By: BGN Editorial Staff