Alibaba launches blockchain food tracking system

Alibaba launches blockchain food tracking system

Market news |
By Rich Pell

The system – called the Food Trust Framework – was established last year with partners health supplements company Blackmores, postal service Australia Post, dairy products supplier Fonterra, and postal delivery service New Zealand Post, and was formerly introduced last month. Now entering its pilot phase, the project is designed to help consumers track the supply chain of food products ordered online, as well as prevent food fraud.

With the new program, shoppers in China will be able to determine whether a food product they’ve just bought is real or fake by scanning a unique code on the product with their phones. Currently, two products – one from Anchor (a Fonterra brand) and one from Blackmores – are reportedly part of the trial.

The goal of the program, Alibaba said in a statement, is to use blockchain technology to “achieve end-to-end supply chain traceability and transparency to enhance consumer confidence and build a trusted environment for cross-border trade.” The technologies used – including blockchain and QR codes – will authenticate, verify, record, and provide an ongoing ledger that is made public to report on the transfer of ownership and provision of products and goods.

“The technology not only helps curb counterfeit food,” says Alibaba, “it also gives consumers greater assurance that what they are consuming is exactly what’s stated on the package.”

The program is designed to help address food fraud, seen as a significant global challenge. According to Michigan State University, fake food products drain $40 billion from the global food industry each year. According to PricewaterhouseCoopers, an estimated 40% of food companies find the traditional approach insufficient to counter fraudulent activities, and 39% say their items are easy targets for counterfeiters.

The Food Trust Framework is said to be China’s first global product traceability program using blockchain technology. In the U.S., retail giant Walmart has conducted a pilot of blockchain technology co-developed by IBM to trace pork products from a farm owned by a Chinese meat producer to a distribution center in Beijing.


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