What’s Going On?
US retail giant Walmart is urging produce partners to submit supply chains to the blockchain to help reduce waste, better manage contamination and improve transparency, reported Bloomberg.
Why Does It Matter?
This tech development is no knee-jerk reaction. The retailer started running tests with IBM in 2016. Frank Yiannas, Walmart’s Vice President of Food Safety and Health, told MIT Technology Review’s Business of Blockchain conference that the company is now ready to use the technology on its food business in a live environment.
What Improvements Can We Expect?
In recent tests, a blockchain approach was able to cut the time it took to track produce from six days to just two seconds, said Yiannas. The new systems were designed to counter serious contaminations. Ten years ago, a deadly strain of E. coli in spinach killed three people and made more than 200 ill when it spread across 26 US states.
“Consumers, in general, stopped eating spinach,” Yiannas told Fortune in 2016. “Restaurants pulled it off the menu. If you could track and pinpoint where that came from faster, you could alleviate all that and ensure consumer confidence continues.”
Walmart is not alone. In Europe, major grocery chain Carrefour uses blockchain to help its customers identify the origins of meat products in their store, reported Bitcoinist. Investopedia noted that Target has created a position within its organization dedicated to exploring applications of blockchain.