Blockchain Bulletin: IBM Food Trust expands Blockchain Network


Recently, IBM announced an increasing uptake of its food supply chain network, IBM Food Trust. The cloud network hosted on the blockchain draws together producers, suppliers, and retailers with data on food products from all tiers of the food chain, providing traceability, transparency and efficiency.


After 18 months of trial and testing the service is now widely available, allowing suppliers and retailers to track millions of individual food products. With increasing amounts of participants joining the network, retail giant Carrefour has opted to utilise the system across its supply chain. As one of the world’s top retailers with more than 12,000 stores in 33 countries, Carrefour stores will primarily use the solution to zero in on consumers’ confidence in a number of Carrefour-branded products. As a commitment of the retailer’s Act for Food program, the solution is expected to expand to all Carrefour brands globally by 2022.

“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,” said Laurent Vallée, general secretary of Carrefour. “This is a decisive step in the roll-out of Act for Food, our global program of concrete initiatives in favour of the food transition.”

Using blockchain for transactions, food can be efficiently traced back to its source in as little as a few seconds instead of days or weeks, increasing trust in the supply chain. In contrast to existing databases, the blockchains ability to permission data, enables network members to gain a new level of trusted information. Transactions are verified by multiple parties, leading to an immutable data set.

“The currency of trust today is transparency and achieving it in the area of food safety happens when responsibility is shared,” 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.”

“Blockchain holds the potential to help us be more transparent and transform how the food industry works by speeding up investigations into contaminated food, authenticating the origin of food, and providing insights about the conditions and pathway the food travelled to identify opportunities to maximize shelf life and reduce losses due to spoilage,” said Ed Treacy, Vice President of Supply Chain Efficiencies at the Produce Marketing Association.

Moving beyond making food safer, the IBM Food Trust network 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 Tech

IBM Food Trust uses a decentralized model to allow multiple participating members of the food supply chain – from growers to suppliers to retailers – to share food origin details, processing data and shipping information on a permissioned blockchain network. Each node on the blockchain is controlled by a separate entity, with all data being encrypted. The decentralized features of the network empower all parties to work together to guarantee the data is trusted.

As one of the largest and most active enterprise blockchain networks in production to date, IBM Food Trust members pioneered a comprehensive governance model for the network to help ensure that the rights and information of all participants will be managed and safeguarded correctly. The governance model ensures each member abides by the same set of rules. Organizations that upload data continue to own the data, and the data owner is the only one that can provide consent for data to be seen or shared. Important blockchain network management considerations have been addressed, including data entry, membership, interoperability and security and hardware requirements, while providing a consistent way to standardise data.

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