IBM in blockchain alliance with global food companies

15:19 SGT October 17, 2017
IBM has entered into a major blockchain collaboration with a group of companies across the global food supply chain to further strengthen consumer confidence in the global food system.

The blockchain consortium, which comprises Dole, Driscoll’s, Golden State Foods, Kroger, McCormick and Company, McLane Company, Nestlé, Tyson Foods, Unilever and Walmart, will work with IBM to identify new areas where the global supply chain can benefit from blockchain.

Every year, one in 10 people fall ill — and 400,000 die — due to contaminated food, according to the World Health Organization. Many of the critical issues impacting food safety such as cross-contamination, the spread of food-borne illness, unnecessary waste and the economic burden of recalls are magnified by lack of access to information and traceability. It can take weeks to identify the precise point of contamination, causing further illness, lost revenue and wasted product.

According to IBM, blockchain can help address these challenges as it establishes a trusted environment for all transactions. For global food supply chains, all participants — growers, suppliers, processors, distributors, retailers, regulators and consumers — can gain permissioned access to known and trusted information regarding the origin and state of food for their transactions. Thus, food providers and other members of the ecosystem can use a blockchain network to trace contaminated product to its source in a short amount of time to ensure safe removal from store shelves and stem the spread of illnesses.

IBM and the food companies will help to identify and prioritise new areas where blockchain can benefit food ecosystems, and inform of new IBM solutions. This work will draw on multiple IBM pilots and production networks in related areas that successfully demonstrate ways in which blockchain can positively impact global food traceability.