Albertsons Companies, the US leading food and drug retailer that operates a network of 2,300 stores across America, has announced joining the blockchain-based IBM Food Trust network. The initiative is aimed at improving the process of keeping track of items in the food supply chain.
Anuj Dhanda, Albertsons Companies’ Chief Information Officer, commented:
“Blockchain technology has the potential to be transformational for us as we further build differentiation on our fresh brand. Food safety is a very significant step. Through the provenance of the products enabled by blockchain, the ability to track every move from the farm to the customer’s basket, can be very empowering for our customers.”
Albertsons Companies will start piloting IBM Food Trust to help overcome the hurdles appearing when a traceback is initiated for high-risk food products like romaine lettuce. Last year, the product was linked to a widespread outbreak of E-coli, which resulted in recalls on a grand scale, with 96 people hospitalized and 5 died.
Then, Albertsons Companies will explore expanding to other food categories throughout its distribution network.
Blockchain technology is a convenient way to trace and authenticate objects as they move through the supply chain. Creating a digital record of every transaction or interaction, from a packaging date to the temperature at which an item was shipped, to its arrival on a grocery store shelf, blockchain makes the end-to-end food ecosystem more transparent and trustworthy. That’s why IBM Food Trust is widely used by companies to join and share data.
Raj Rao, general manager of IBM Food Trust, said:
“Since first introducing IBM Food Trust, we have met a number of milestones that show the path toward transforming the end-to-end food system. Today, we are further scaling the network to bring blockchain-based traceability to an even wider cross-section of retailers, suppliers and end consumers. By working with the top retailers all over the world, IBM Food Trust is truly helping to provide a safer and more transparent food system for all.”
Currently, more than five million food products have been traced through the solution. IBM Food Trust lets companies onboard via different means, including offering guided onboarding to help brands customize their solutions and providing IBM Services for consulting companies.
When onboard, members get access to application programming interfaces (APIs) and developer tutorials that make integrations with third-party technologies, enterprise systems, and other data sources easier.
Food Trust is just one of blockchain-focused enterprise solutions IBM has developed in recent years. With Albertsons Companies, IBM Food Trust network unites more than 50 brands across the food ecosystem in blockchain-based food traceability.
It all began in 2016 when IBM started testing blockchain with Walmart in China to reduce the time to track goods. In 2017, IBM partnered with a group of food giants, including Walmart and Unilever, to develop a new blockchain-based solution addressing food safety issues. Companies that joined the project included Tyson Foods, Dole Food Company, Nestle, Kroger, McCormick & Company, Driscoll’s and McLane Company.
Later, Walmart, for which testing blockchain as a way to track goods was a success, ultimately decided to replace the outdated food tracking system with the technology. With such a decision, the US retailing giant set a good example for European supermarket chains.
For example, European supermarket giant Carrefour decided to use the IBM Food Trust blockchain platform to expand its product range internationally while tracking more than 12,000 operational stores across 33 countries.