IBM, Walmart and Tsinghua University announced the opening of Walmart’s new Food Safety Collaboration Center in Beijing last week, including a joint effort to improve the way food is tracked, transported and sold to consumers across China, according to a press release sent to CoinReport.
The collaboration is intended to help increase the safety of food on the tables of Chinese consumers by utilizing blockchain technology to yield precision, trust, efficiency and transparency in supply chain record-keeping.
The Chinese government, as a part of its enterprise to encourage safe food for all, has identified food authentication and supply chain tracking as a vital phase to swiftly discover and eradicate sources of contamination.
As blockchain offers a lasting record of each transaction that occurs, and transaction are grouped in blocks that cannot be modified, the technology can replace the often incorrect, overwhelmed and antiquated i.e. potentially dangerous paper tracking and manual inspection systems currently in use.
Blockchain technology enables the traceability of food products from an ecosystem of suppliers to store shelves and ultimately to consumers. When the technology is applied to the food supply chain, digital product information like farm origination particulars, batch numbers, factory and processing data, expiration dates, storage temperatures and shipping specifics are digitally linked to food items and the information is entered into the blockchain along every step of the process.
All members of the business network agree upon the information in each transaction, and as soon as there is a unanimity, the info becomes a permanent record that cannot be changed, helping assure that all details about the item are correct.
Walmart, together with IBM and with research support by Tsinghua University National Engineering Laboratory for E-Commerce Technologies, has created a pilot project that is designed to trace pork as it moves from supplier to the shelves of Walmart stores. Before a shopper at a Walmart store buys the food, every single item will have been authenticated using blockchain technology to generate a traceable, security-rich and transparent record, which can also assist merchants like Walmart in better managing the shelf-life of products in individual stores, and reinforce safeguards associated with food authenticity further.
“Advanced technology has reached into so many aspects of modern life but it has lagged in food traceability, and in particular in creating more secure food supply chains. Our collaboration with Walmart and Tsinghua University is a step of global significance to change that,” said Bridget van Kralingen, senior vice president, Industry Platforms, IBM, in the release we received. “Food touches all of us, everywhere, and ensuring the safety of what we eat is a global effort, so we are experimenting in China with Walmart and Tsinghua given the size and scale of food consumption in this country.”
Agreement signing photo – Via News Room on IBM’s website
Bridget van Kralingen’s photo – Via News Room on IBM’s website