On Monday, October 8, tech giant IBM launched its food-tracking blockchain project IBM food Trust in partnership with European supermarket giant Carrefour. The food-blockchain project spans across a large number of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in the food industry.
Carrefour’s participation has given the project a big boost which can see a huge participation from other SMEs. Carrefour has currently got more than 12,000 operational stores across 33 countries. The retailer plans to further expand its business using IBM‘s food-tracking food-tracking blockchain which will help it to track and trace its own products moving worldwide. Anyone from the food industry can be a part of IBM’s project by paying a subscription fee between $100 to $10,000 a month.
In a word with CoinDesk, Emmanuel Delerm, blockchain program director at Carrefour told:
“For us, it’s a matter of sense for the consumer. It’s really this that will push us to say to our producers or partners or suppliers, will they come on the platform? It’s really consumer-orientated; it’s really for them that we are doing this.”
Ramesh Gopinath, IBM’s vice president of blockchain solutions, told:
“IBM Food Trust is the first production blockchain at real scale and we are super-excited to finally be making the product available broadly.”
Gopinath says that the major advantage of IBM Food Trust blockchain solutions is its ability to trace items forward and backward within the supply chain. However, for this to happen successfully, “That obviously requires the growers, the suppliers, and the retailers all to be part of the solution, sending in information in a trusted and permissioned fashion and we link it all together,” said Gopinath.
In the last 18 months of testing, nearly 3 million transactions have been successfully processed. Now that the blockchain ledger is finally live, Gopinath is confident that it will be ten times faster.
Shifting to IBM Food-Tracking Blockchain
For almost a year, before moving to the IBM Food Trust platform, Carrefour’s entire supermarket chain worked on its native blockchain network used by its internal engineering team. Delerm said: “Being a retailer we knew that IBM was working with Walmart on IBM Food Trust in the U.S. primarily”.
Carrefour later wanted to expand the range of products in a way that it currently verifies the production of free-range chicken in the Auvergne region in central France. Delerm said: “As of today, we have three products in France that since the start of the year we have been delivering to consumers all the information: tomatoes, chicken and eggs, and we added recently the chicken also in Italy”.
The company’s current plan involves using the IBM Food Trust to include international plans.
IBM Food Trust Built Using the Hyperledger Fabric Blockchain Protocol
The IBM Food Trust is emerging as a leading track-and-trace food space. The entire blockchain platform is developed using the Hyperledger Fabric blockchain protocol contributed by Big Blue to the Hypeledger project. IBM’s Gopinath said that interoperability is the company’s ultimate goal.
“All of that, in my view, is good news,” he said. “It’s affirmation that path we started on three plus years ago is the right one. And back when we started out, we have always had interoperability in mind.”
Gopinath also pointed to data sharing standards like GS1 which means that all the necessary work will be done up front. He added:
“I’d love it if IBM Food Trust was the only platform out there for this, but we are not that naive. If there’s another one that is as good and as mature as Food Trust out there then absolutely we will be happy to do the interop.”
Before Carrefour, IBM has been in talks with several giants in the food and retail industry like Walmart, Nestle, Unilever and others. Just two week back, Walmart also agreed to use IBM’s food-tracking blockchain solutions to streamline its global operations.