One of the world's biggest supermarkets is adopting a blockchain traceability system, within a global food network aimed at enabling greater transparency, collaboration and safer food supply.
Albertsons Companies, the second largest supermarket chain in the United States, announced last week that it has joined IBM’s Food Trust network.
The chain will be the latest firm to join the network that tracks food products from farm to shelf.
The IBM Food Trust network, which launched last year, is made up of more than 80 brands who use a blockchain platform that provides retailers and their suppliers with access to secure digital records of the product's journey from the source to the store. More than five million food products are currently digitized on the network.
Albertsons, which operates nearly 2,300 stores across the US, intends to start by tracing bulk romaine lettuce before expanding to other food products. It aims to ensure easier traceability and ensure safer supply chains, while evaluating ways to promote the origins of its Own Brand ranges.
Blockchain technology has the potential to be "transformational" for Albertsons, according to the company's chief information officer Anuj Dhanda.
“Food safety is a very significant step. In addition, the provenance of the products enabled by blockchain — the ability to track every move from the farm to the customer's basket — can be very empowering for our customers,” he said.
And Jerry Noland, vice president of food safety & quality assurance at Albertsons, commented: “Multiple high-profile consumer advisories from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Food and Drug Administration demonstrate the need to find more efficient ways of tracing products and identifying likely sources of contamination in a timely manner."
He added: "Consequently, retailers are exploring new technologies to improve the infrastructure that underpins the global food supply chain.”
Blockchain technology has increased the traceability of products and optimised supply chain processes. IBM's network helps food companies address a range of food system issues, including: supply chain efficiency, freshness, waste reduction, sustainability and validity of certifications, such as fair trade and organic.
Raj Rao, general manager at IBM Food Trust, said: “Establishing IBM Food Trust and opening it to the food ecosystem last year was a major milestone in making blockchain real for business."
He added: “By bringing more members into the network and enabling them to share greater cross-sections of data in a secured environment, we believe our vision of a transformed food ecosystem using blockchain is closer than ever.”