The blockchain-based IBM Food Trust cloud network is designed to offer participating retailers, suppliers, growers, and food industry providers with data from across the food ecosystem to enable greater traceability, transparency, and efficiency. After 18 months in testing, says the company, during which millions of individual food products have been tracked by retailers and suppliers, the network is now generally available.
In addition, the company announced, leading global retailer Carrefour announced that they will use the IBM Food Trust blockchain network to strengthen their food excellence actions. With more than 12,000 stores in 33 countries, Carrefour will initially use the solution to highlight consumers’ confidence in a number of Carrefour-branded products, and expects to expand it to all Carrefour brands worldwide by 2022.
Laurent Vallée, general secretary of Carrefour says, “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. 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.”
The use of blockchain for trusted transactions enables food products to be quickly traced back to their source in as quickly as a few seconds instead of the days or weeks using previous methods. Unlike traditional databases, says IBM, 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. (Also see a related infographic: “How Blockchain Could Mend our Fractured Global Food Supply Chain.”)
“The currency of trust today is transparency and achieving it in the area of food safety happens when responsibility is shared,” says 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.”
In addition to Carrefour, says IBM, organizations joining the IBM Food Trust include leading cooperative Topco Associates, retailer-owned cooperative Wakefern, and suppliers including BeefChain, Dennick Fruit Source, Scoular, and Smithfield. Recently, Walmart 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, says IBM, the IBM Food Trust network and accompanying solutions have expanded to focus on optimizing the food supply. This includes generating insights on product freshness, reducing waste, and making the supply chain more collaborative and transparent.
The company says it is working with services and technology providers to contribute important supply chain, provenance, testing, and sensor data to the blockchain ecosystem. Through a library of IBM Food Trust APIs, hardware, software, and technology, companies can write transaction data directly onto the blockchain network to provide valuable insights.
The IBM Food Trust is available today globally as a subscription service for members of the food ecosystem to join, runs on the IBM Cloud, and is offered as featuring 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, and the network includes compatibility with the GS1 standard used by much of the food industry to ensure interoperability for traceability systems.
Participants can select from three IBM Food Trust software-as-a-service modules with pricing that is scaled for small, medium, and global enterprises, beginning at $100 per month. Suppliers can contribute data to the network at no cost:
- Trace – The trace module allows members of a food ecosystem to more securely trace products in seconds to help mitigate cross-contamination, and reduce spread of food-borne illness and unnecessary waste – a process that often takes weeks using other methods.
- Certifications – The certifications module helps verify the provenance of digitized certificates, such as organic or fair trade. It also enables participants across the ecosystem to easily load, manage and share food certifications digitally, speeding up certificate management by up to 30%.
- Data entry and access – The data entry and access module allows members to securely upload, access and manage data on the blockchain.
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