IBM Food Trust system launches with Carrefour

By Michelle Perrett

- Last updated on GMT

Blockchain ‘holds the potential to help us be more transparent and transform how the food industry works’
Blockchain ‘holds the potential to help us be more transparent and transform how the food industry works’
IBM has formally launched its blockchain-based traceability system Food Trust with retailer Carrefour the latest to sign on to the network.

Food Trust offers participating retailers, suppliers, growers and food industry providers data from across the food ecosystem to enable greater traceability, transparency and efficiency.

The network is now live after 18 months in testing, during which millions of individual food products were tracked by retailers and suppliers.

Carrefour, the retailer that has 12,000 stores in 33 countries and announced a strategic alliance with Tesco earlier this year, will use the system with full rollout by 2022.

The retailer said its stores would initially use the system to highlight consumers’ confidence in a number of Carrefour-branded products.

‘Safe and undoubted traceability’

“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,” ​said Laurent Vallée, general secretary of Carrefour.

“This is a decisive step in the rollout of Act for Food, our global program of concrete initiatives in favor of the food transition.”

The system allows food to be quickly traced back to its source in as little as a few seconds instead of days or weeks.

IBM said that unlike traditional databases, the attributes of blockchain and the ability to permission data, enabled network members to gain a new level of trusted information.

“The currency of trust today is transparency and achieving it in the area of food safety happens when responsibility is shared,” ​said Bridget van Kralingen, senior vice president, IBM Global Industries, Clients, Platforms and Blockchain.

‘Collaborative approach’

“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.”

In addition to Carrefour, cooperative Topco Associates, cooperative Wakefern and suppliers including BeefChain, Dennick Fruit Source, Scoular and Smithfield are using the system.

US retailer Walmart recently announced that it would begin requiring its leafy green suppliers to capture digital, end-to-end traceability event information using IBM Food Trust.

“Blockchain holds the potential to help us be more transparent and transform how the food industry works by speeding up investigations into contaminated food, authenticating the origin of food, and providing insights about the conditions and pathway the food traveled to identify opportunities to maximize shelf-life and reduce losses due to spoilage,”​ said Ed Treacy, vice president of supply chain efficiencies at the Produce Marketing Association.

In July, the Food Standards Agency announced it had successfully completed a pilot using blockchain in a cattle slaughterhouse​. A further rollout of the technology was planned.

  • This story also headed up our latest Editor’s Spotlight, which this week focused on some of the latest tech developments in the food industry. Keep an eye out for these specially selected newsletters, which are published every Tuesday and Thursday.

Related topics: Supply Chain, Manufacturing

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