Carrefour is to roll out blockchain technology across its supply chains over the coming years, in a bid to improve how it traces food such as eggs and tomatoes.
Europe’s biggest retailer is planning to apply the shared ledger to its premium ‘Quality Line’ range, which includes French and Norwegian chicken, salmon, eggs, milk, tomatoes and cheese, by the end of the year.
The French company will use IBM’s blockchain platform, Food Trust, to track the products, following the lead of Walmart, Unilever and Nestlé who are also trialling the technology.
Using the ledger will enable Carrefour to keep records of all events along the supply chain, from production to packaging through to processing.
Product labels will feature a QR code which consumers can scan with a smartphone. This provides information such as where it was grown, the name of the producer, the farming methods used or, in the case of fruit and vegetables, the date it was planted.
“Consumers want more and more transparency regarding the products they eat,” said Cosme de Moucheron, IBM’s managing director in charge of Carrefour.
“That's why members of the IBM Food Trust ecosystem are co-developing a new solution – so that all of the parties involved in the supply chain can guarantee product traceability and quality.”
Last week, Walmart told all its leafy greens suppliers to sign up to its blockchain solution within a year.
The US retailer said it expected all suppliers of fresh leafy greens to Walmart stores to have end-to-end traceability through blockchain by the end of September 2019.
Carrefour plans to extend the ledger to all its global food products by 2022.
Laurent Vallée, Carrefour Group’s general secretary, said the move would “strongly accelerate and widen the integration of blockchain technology to our products in order to provide our clients with safe and undoubted traceability”.
The retailer, which has 12,000 stores in 33 countries, joins US food retailer cooperatives Topco Associates and Wakefern and beef suppliers BeefChain as the first full-scale commercial adopters of IBM’s ledger.
In September, a former blockchain leader at Deloitte urged companies to invest in the technology now or pay the price later.
Eric Piscini, now CEO of a blockchain start-up, told SM the technology was reaching a “critical point”, and that despite the challenges now is the time for procurement professionals to become early adopters.
Last year, Nestlé and Unilever said they would also adopt IBM’s platform, but they are still trialling the technology on certain products such as baby food.