Nestle Launches New Blockchain Initiative Away From Ongoing IBM Project

UTC by Wanguba Muriuki · 3 min read
Nestle Launches New Blockchain Initiative Away From Ongoing IBM Project
Nestlé Headquarters in Vevey, Switzerland. Photo: Nestlé / Flickr

Nestle has launched a new blockchain initiative with OpenSC to run concurrently with the ongoing IBM project with the aim of enhancing viability, feasibility, and scalability of the food supply system.

According to an official company statement, Nestlé is working on a pilot program to track its supply chains using blockchain. The largest food company by revenue partnered with a blockchain platform, OpenSC, to develop the distributed ledger system. Nestle clarified that the new project will run separately from the ongoing IBM Food Trust blockchain endeavour.

The OpenSC pilot program will last six months. Success will be determined by the viability, feasibility, and scalability of the system. Also, the ability of the system to verify data will determine its success according to a Nestle representative. After it is launched, the service may feature a mobile app, QR code, and a web portal. The spokesperson said:

“For us, it is key that the access to the information is as seamless and easy as possible in order to have participation and traction with stakeholders and consumers.”

Nestle confirmed that the aim of this initiative is to drive the market towards transparency by offering independently certifiable data to the conglomerate’s consumers. They also think that the mechanism will enhance quality control and food safety. Nestlé Executive Vice President, Magdi Batato, said in a statement:

“We want our consumers to make an informed decision on their choice of products – to choose products produced responsibly. Open blockchain technology might allow us to share reliable information with consumers in an accessible way.”

The Program

The program will start by tracking milk from farms in New Zealand through to Nestlé facilities in the Middle East. Then, it will expand to include palm oil production in the Americas. The company will then analyze the application to determine its scalability. However, they acknowledge that some retail items will take some time to blend in.

A company representative said food trust:

“With the palm oil supply chain in the Americas, we can experiment the system at local level. Moreover, the product itself, being liquid, it adds more complexity to the traceability.”

All data will be collected in every step in the value chain and recorded on an open platform. According to the company representative, Nestle may include data from additional monitoring systems like satellite imaging of farms. All changes and updates made in the system will be accessible to all users.

The IBM Partnership

Nestle joined IBM Food Trust in 2017 as a founder member. In April, the company started working with Carrefour to use blockchain to track Mousline potato puree from its factories to the French retail giant’s stores. Two months later, Carrefour reported an increase in sales attributing the gains to its implementation of transparent tracking.

The food company wants to offer consumers in-depth information about their food. They want to know where ingredients come from and blockchain will assist in offering trusted data acquired throughout the value chain.

According to the Global Head of Responsible Sourcing for Nestlé, Benjamin Ware:

“This open blockchain technology will allow anyone, anywhere in the world to assess our responsible sourcing facts and figures.”

IBM Blockchain uses a QR barcode on products that when scanned it offers a lot of information. It provides farm location and owner, date of harvest, how long the item is in transit, packing date, and tips on how to prepare it.

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