From Crop to Consumption

IBM Food Trust expands blockchain network

IBM has announced a growing adoption of its food supply chain network, IBM Food Trust.

The blockchain-based 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 network is now generally available after 18 months in testing, during which millions of individual food products have been tracked by retailers and suppliers.

The ecosystem of network participants continues to grow, and today, leading global retailer Carrefour announced they will use the IBM Food Trust blockchain network to strengthen their food excellence actions. As one of the world's leading retailers with more than 12,000 stores in 33 countries, Carrefour stores will initially use the solution to highlight consumers' confidence in a number of Carrefour-branded products. As a commitment of the retailer's Act for Food program, the solution is expected to expand to all Carrefour brands worldwide by 2022.

"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 roll-out of Act for Food, our global program of concrete initiatives in favour of the food transition."

Using blockchain for trusted transactions, food can be quickly traced back to its source in as little as a few seconds instead of days or weeks. Unlike traditional databases, the attributes of blockchain and the ability to permission data, enables network members to gain a new level of trusted information. Transactions are endorsed by multiple parties, leading to an immutable single version of the truth.

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

The members of IBM Food Trust have helped build a powerful global business solution that is interoperable and built on open standards. This is designed to enable organisations in the food industry to run their businesses more effectively and provide safer food at lower costs.

In addition to Carrefour, organisations joining IBM Food Trust include: Leading cooperative Topco Associates, LLC, representing 49 members, reaching over 15,000 stores and 65 million weekly customers; Retailer-owned cooperative Wakefern, representing 50 member companies and 349 stores; and suppliers including BeefChain, Dennick Fruit Source, Scoular and Smithfield.

"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 travelled 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.

These newest participants join a movement that is accelerating among retailers and suppliers. For example, Walmart, an early proponent of blockchain technology, recently announced that it will begin requiring its leafy green suppliers to capture digital, end-to-end traceability event information using IBM Food Trust.

Beyond the goal of making food safer, the IBM Food Trust network and accompanying solutions have expanded to focus on optimising the food supply. This includes generating insights on product freshness, reducing waste and making the supply chain more collaborative and transparent.

"The power of IBM Food Trust is in bringing together not only retailers and suppliers but also the rest of the ecosystem touching our food supply," said Natalie Dyenson, vice president, Food Safety & Quality, Dole. "For example, Dole is working with Centricity, a grower-owned partner, to connect audit data to the blockchain by leveraging the Trellis framework as a standard for the produce industry, using existing formats and processes. By simplifying on-farm and front-office reporting and putting data on the blockchain, IBM Food Trust has helped Dole unlock the value of compliance data across our suppliers and partners in a cost-effective way."

Now available globally, IBM Food Trust runs on the IBM Cloud and features enterprise-class security, reliability and scalability. The foundation of the technology relies on Hyperledger Fabric, an open source blockchain framework hosted by the Linux Foundation. In addition, the network includes compatibility with the GS1 standard used by much of the food industry to ensure interoperability for traceability systems.

IBM Food Trust is available as a subscription service for members of the food ecosystem to join. For more information on availability, please visit here. To read the news in full, please visit here.