IBM Food Trust To Expand Blockchain Initiative With New Suppliers And Retailers

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Nestle S.A, a retail food giant based in Switzerland, has said that the IBM Food Trust project will in 2019 seen new suppliers and retailers join.

The IBM Food Trust is a blockchain-based initiative that has brought together multiple brands and giants within the global retail industry, including Walmart and Unilever.

Plans to onboard new members were revealed by Benjamin Dubois, the digital transformation manager at Nestle for the global supply chain. He was speaking to Swiss-based regional daily newspaper 24 heures, in an interview published on January 28.

The IBM Food Trust blockchain project launched way back in 2016, with Walmart first experimenting with the product in China in December of that year. Nestle began testing the blockchain platform in August 2017 as it looked to monitor its supply chain.

The blockchain is increasingly becoming useful for global retail businesses, with Dubois noting that their use is driven by demand from consumers who want “more transparency and trust.”

The blockchain is, therefore, a technology that these major retailers look at as they seek to fulfill expectations adequately.

The primary goal of the project is to give companies a platform upon which they can quickly identify, and issues involved related to food recalls, especially where there has been an outbreak.

The blockchain technology makes tracing and monitoring the supply chain a lot easier, making the process of taking remedial action, even more, swifter to minimize customer risk.

More importantly, companies on the platform do have the option of pooling data, collaborating with other retailers where necessary – thus improving the whole supply chain experience.

Retailer firms can pool data right from crop production, factory processing, product labeling, or transport and use the blockchain to track or test within seconds, as opposed to the several days legacy systems take.

In the interview, Dubois notes that the platform’s primary target is to allow public access to as much as information as possible regarding the products they consume. For that matter, individual companies have the choice of how much more to avail.

Accordingly, a consumer can leverage a simple QR code to get:

“Not only the origin and composition of the product but which farmer participated in the harvest, when it was made, the date on which the food was processed…”

It can also allow a consumer to easily identify the particular factory that processed the item or even the number of employees at the given agricultural enterprise.

At the moment, as noted by Dubois in his interview with the bilingual publication, there remain several technical challenges that must be navigated in 2019. It includes the issue of how to manage interoperability of various data platforms.

The move to expand the IBM Food Trust initiative comes at the same time as a member of the project- France-based retail giant Carrefour – reportedly launched a food tracking platform built on Hyperledger for its poultry business in Spain.

Earlier this month, an MIT Tech review paper noted that blockchain was on the way to becoming mainstream in 2019, driven by accelerated adoption on Wall Street.


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