Because its blockchain-based system makes a record every time food changes hands in the supply chain, Walmart can more quickly and more easily pinpoint the source of a foodborne illness outbreak or determine if it has sourced contaminated foods from a given vendor.
“With a blockchain traceability solution, you could scan a product and trace that product back with precision and accuracy to its source in seconds – not days or weeks,” Walmart Vice President of Food Safety Frank Yiannis said in a 2018 YouTube video.
“In the future, a customer could potentially scan a bag of salad and know with certainty whether it has been involved in a recall.”
By tracking every aspect of a product’s journey from sea or soil to store, producers can guarantee not only safety but also sustainability. Bumble Bee Foods, for example, uses a blockchain solution from SAP to ensure it’s sourcing fish that’s compatible with its commitment to fair trade fishing.
“We have the ability to track fish the moment it’s caught and as it travels around the world, telling the story of each tuna while positively impacting ecosystems and the lives of the people all the way down the line,” Bumble Bee CIO Tony Costa in a press release.
“Bumble Bee has long been an industry leader in tracing its seafood products, and the addition of … blockchain technology allows us to further elevate our efforts in complete transparency with consumers and customers, providing assurance that their fish is fresh and it’s been sourced fairly.”
Along with freshness and sustainability, companies like Bumble Bee can use blockchain to verify authenticity – that is, to help customers verify that tuna is actually tuna.
“Purchasing seafood has become the ultimate guessing game for U.S. consumers,” Beth Lowell, vice president for U.S. campaigns at ocean conservation organization Oceana, said in a press release.
“Whether you live in Florida or Kansas, no one is safe from seafood fraud. We need to track our seafood from boat to plate so that consumers can be more confident that the fish they purchase is safe, legal and honestly labeled.”
Bringing Home the Bacon
Blockchain doesn’t just benefit consumers’ health. It also benefits their wealth, as blockchain applications in the food supply chain can help companies stamp out inefficiencies, which creates savings that can be passed on to consumers who are quickly becoming overburdened by inflation.
“Implementing innovative blockchain solutions helps us get detailed insights into every single event and take informed actions,” Walmart reported.
“This enhanced visibility enables us to manage suppliers better, conduct more efficient quality checks, and drastically reduce time and costs at various levels of the supply chain.”
Although it won’t happen overnight, food producers and retailers alike can use new blockchain-based insights to optimize and restructure the fragile food system. If they do, food that’s safe, sustainable and affordable food might soon be on everybody’s table.