IBM Launches Food Supply Blockchain

Written by John Butler
Posted October 15, 2018 at 12:25PM

Blockchain technology is becoming more commercial as time passes. This time, it’s reached our food supply chains.

IBM Food Trust has gone live for commercial use. The Trust’s blockchain technology is used to provide detailed supply-chain information on the users’ food products.

This isn’t IBM’s first blockchain product. Earlier this year, the company teamed up with Maersk to launch TradeLens, a blockchain used to track shipments around the world.

IBM has tested the Food Trust’s blockchain technology for a year and a half.

Several players have already signed up to use IBM Food Trust. These companies include Kroger, Tyson Foods, Nestle, and French retailer Carrefour.

After testing the product with pork and mangos earlier this year, even Walmart is on board. The superstore wants its suppliers to adopt IBM Food Trust by 2019.

Not only will IBM Food Trust provide a much-needed service, but its results will also affect blockchain technology’s commercial future.

What Does the Food Trust Provide?

IBM’s Food Trust ledger permits its users several things related to the supply and shipping of food items.

First, a user can locate and monitor products going through every single step of the supply chain in seconds rather than days or weeks. By doing so in such a quick time, the spread and distribution of contaminated food is lessened. This quick tracking also lowers the amount of spoiled, wasted food being shipped.

Second, users can input, view, and operate data on IBM Food Trust’s blockchain.

Third, users can verify and exchange shipping certifications.

IBM charges a monthly subscription fee between $100 and $10,000 for use of the Food Trust technology.

What Will Be its Effects?

There will be several outcomes of IBM Food Trust going live. First, IBM Food Trust is one of the first blockchain networks of high proportion being used. If IBM Food Trust is successful, we will see many more companies adopting blockchain technology for their products.

Second, IBM Food Trust will save companies loads of time in keeping up with their items. Using IBM Food Trust, Walmart went from taking a week to track a food shipment to seconds.

Third, people’s health will benefit from IBM Food Trust’s presence. With the traceability and transparency IBM Food Trust provides, the number of people getting their hands on contaminated foods will decrease. Also, locating the contamination itself will become much more efficient.

Walmart is using IBM Food Trust partly because of this. Earlier this year, the massive retailer was involved in the E. coli flare-up in contaminated lettuce. People were hospitalized during this outbreak, and some even lost their lives.

Using IBM Food Trust, Walmart will be able to trace its products at all stages of the food supply chain, from the farm to the store’s shelf. Walmart is currently using the technology to monitor over 20 produces, meats, and other perishables.

IBM Food Trust mitigating food contaminations is also going to save companies loads of money. Investigating a potential contamination and subsequently recalling the product is a very difficult and expensive process.

Just earlier this month, in the U.S., millions of pounds of beef were recalled due to a salmonella scare. IBM Food Trust will make it easier to investigate such claims, mitigating the time and money spent for resolution.

With IBM Food Trust, investigating contaminations and recalls will take minutes.

By now, it's not mere speculation that blockchain technology has proven its value in our everyday lives. It continues to show that it can solve problems for us in new, efficient ways. And IBM Food Trust’s development, use, and benefits prove just that.


John Butler, Jr.
Contributing Editor,
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