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IBM’s Food Trust blockchain goes live with Carrefour


Today IBM announced its Food Trust network is now generally available, plus French supermarket giant Carrefour and others have joined. The network enables food traceability from farm to retailer and beyond.

Food traceability is a hot topic in part because of food safety issues. A good tracing solution will help to identify the source of any food problems quickly. But also when there’s a health outbreak, by identifying the origin, it prevents large volumes of good food being destroyed ‘just in case’.

Additionally, consumers are increasingly conscious about working conditions for laborers and want to ensure farming is sustainable. Because of customer interest, Carrefour the 12,000 store supermarket recently announced its ‘Act for Food’ program. Consumers can use a mobile app to scan a QR code and find out details about the items.

“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 favor of the food transition.”

This isn’t Carrefour’s first foray into food traceability. The retailer has been using a blockchain solution for traceability of Quality Line chickens and tomatoes. They initially started using Ethereum, but a few months ago they began experimenting with Hyperledger Fabric for eggs and tomatoes.

Other Food Trust partners

Two weeks ago Walmart which is also part of the Food Trust network, set a deadline for all suppliers of leafy greens to adopt blockchain traceability within a year. Other founding members include Nestle, Unilever, and Tyson.

“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 VP, IBM Global Industries, Clients, Platforms and Blockchain.

Other partners announced today include cooperative Topco Associates with 49 members that reach 15,000 stores and more than 65 million weekly customers. Another cooperative joining is Wakefern with 50 member companies and 35 stores. Suppliers unveiled include BeefChain, Dennick Fruit Source, Scoular, and Smithfield.

Beyond food suppliers

Dole, the largest producer of fruit and vegetable in the world, outlined how other services are integrating with the network. Natalie Dyenson, VP, Food Safety & Quality, Dole said: “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.”

Centricity enables the collection and sharing of agronomic and compliance data. And Trellis is an open source food industry standard and API.

Other traceability initiatives

Two weeks ago Albert Heijn the major Dutch food retailer unveiled an orange juice food traceability app. And Subway and Tyson are testing FoodLogiQ’s blockchain traceability project.

In Cambodia, Oxfam recently launched an organic rice traceability initiative to empower farmers. Alibaba’s Ant Financial is also involved in a rice traceability project in China. In the UK, the Food Standards Agency started to use blockchain to trace cattle at the slaughterhouse.

TE-FOOD is involved in a Vietnamese pig tracking initiative as well as the Beefchain blockchain.