The largest retailer company of Europe, Carrefour SA, has decided to adopt the blockchain technology in order to track and trace chicken, eggs and tomatoes as they are deployed across product lines. The technology will be created by IBM.
Carrefour has affirmed that it will rely on the blockchain technology developed by IBM, IBM Food Trust, to track these products. They will work a way to secure supply chains that can be used by the company to secure their global supply chains of fresh produce.
IBM Food Trust is already being used in some companies and will be able to increase the efficiency of tracking and sharing the information on how products are grown, processed and shipped by the companies that work with Carrefour. By using the blockchain, the companies will be able to increase the speed of the whole process and to keep contamined food away from the table of the clients.
Global businesses will spend around $212,000 USD yearly to use the Food Trust system created by IBM, which is already available right now and has the potential to transform the industry.
A Technology To Transform The Sector
The experts affirm that the blockchain technology has the power to transform many industries across the world, which range from finances, real estate, logistics and agriculture. Part of the reason why the company is using it is because these solutions are starting to get more common around the world.
Laurent Vallee, the Secretary General of Carrefour, has affirmed that the technology will be used in only three products at first but that the goal of the retailer company is to use thie system for its 300 fresh products across the world by 2022, when the whole supply chain of the company will be contemplated by this new technology.
The secretary believes that this can be a key to trace these products better and to “tell the story” of these products for the consumers, which are increasingly more interested with the quality and healthness of the food that they buy at the supermarket.
Emmanuel Delerm, the blockchain program director at Carrefour affirms that the company is focused right now on orienting the partners to adopt this technology as it will mean that the quality of what the clients will buy will increase dramatically.
However, an important problem remains and it is the mass adoption of this technology. According to a market research made by Simon Ellis from IDC, it is hard to convince growers to participate in the blockchain industry. According to his research, growers and farmers are at drastically different levels of technological sophistication right now, which causes major issues of adoptance.
Salmonella Outbreaks As A Major Challenge For The Industry
One of the main issues of the industry at the moment is that eggs and poultry are linked to major Salmonella outbreaks this year, which has been worrying people in the industry. Nearly 207 milion eggs were possibly contaminated in North Carolina back in April, for instance. Also, the cases of Salmonella food poisoning in the Europen Union are on the rise.
Other important companies like Walmart Inc. and Smithfield Foods are joining IBM’s project right now and will start to use this technology is their retail stores as well. Nestle, Unilever and Tyson Foods have already joined IBM last year in the project.
Carrefour may be a major milestone for IBM in making the IBM Food Trust a popular system right now but the company is already looking at small and medium-sized companies as it does not want to only work together with the biggest players (although they are certainly very important). Carrefour has over 12,000 stores over the world in 33 countries including France, Spain and Brazil, which will be the first three markes in which the technology will be used first.
Ramesh Gopinath, the vice president of blockchain solutions at IBM, has affirmed that the IBM Food Trust system is one of the first real scalable blockchains that will be used in such a big endeavour and that the technology will be broadly available around the world.
According to the VP of blockchain, the main ability of this new product will be to trace the items right to where the problem has started because not only the consumers will be protected but because the company will be able to pinpoint exactly where the problems began and the batch or orchard can let them understand better how to prevent this from happening again.
Obviously, this would require everybody in the ecosystem to use this technology, which can be somewhat of a problem as not everybody will be on board of the change right away.
IBM Food Trust Will Use Hyperledgher Fabric
The technology that will be used by IBM in this new product will be the Hyperledger Fabric blockchain protocol, which was made by the Hyperledger community. The technology will also use Sawtooth, which was donated to Hyperledger by Intel.
One of the main reasons to use this technology is to create an interoperable system as the company wants to have a technology that will be easily compatible with other ones that use the Hyperledger Fabric as a basis for their architecture. Gopinath affirmed that if other similar technology appears, it would be great if it can work together with IBM instead of not being compatible.
Carrefour Tried To Solve The Problem Alone Before IBM
While the decision to use IBM Food Trust’s technology is final today, Carrefour has initially tried to develop its own technology for the system. They knew that IBM was working with Walmart, but tried to develop the product together, especially to trace chicken-based products.
However, it proved more easy to simply adopt this technology. Also, part of the reason why the decision was taken was because companies like Nestle and Unilever were using it, so it would be simpler to include these brands in the process and work together with them.
Blockchain To Dominate The Market In The Future
Even if the adoption will be slow and it will mostly be happening little by little in the next five years, it is certain that the blockchain will come to dominate this market. IBM has made some important partnerships at the moment and it has been coopeating with companies like Topco Associates, which represents 15,000 stores around the world and Wakefern, which represents 50 companies that own 344 stores.
This way, it is clear that the industry is shifting away from paper and centralized-based systems and the blockchain technology will be a solution that will be used in the future. Even in shipping and trading IBM is using the blockchain, as the collaboration with Maersk, the biggest shipment company in the world, proves.
The IBM Food System has been in the making for 18 months and has starting to be used now.