Major US grocery chain Walmart commits to Blockchain to maintain supply chain quality

Suppliers only have until the end of the month to align with systems retailer has been testing on an IBM blockchain platform for past 18 months

Posted 25 September 2018 by Gary Flood

Citing concerns about problems with the food supply chain, the world’s largest greengrocer – Walmart – says Blockchain has emerged as its preferred solution to protecting the integrity of its food supply chain.

US consumers were in fact hit by an E. coli outbreak in romaine lettuce that recently affected more than 200 people and salmonella in products such as eggs and breakfast cereal.

But by storing key audit trail information digitally, a supplier could see which farms are infected and quickly stop the supply to restaurants and consumers, says the firm.

“Walmart believes the current one-step up and one-step back model of food traceability is outdated for the 21st Century and that by, working together, we can do better. There is no question that there is a strong public-health and business-case for enhanced food traceability,” it has told the companies that put the lettuces in its produce racks.

Hence its new Blockchain plan, whereby all fresh leafy greens it orders from suppliers have to be able to get traced back to farms “in seconds – not days,” the company has stated in an open letter to suppliers.

Indeed, direct suppliers will be required to conform to its new distributed ledger standards and “enable end-to-end traceability” back to farms by as soon as the end of this month, it warns.

The company has been piloting the technology on IBM’s Food Trust blockchain for 18 months, according to US press reports – deploying it to track everything from mangoes to chicken.

The result: a reduction in the time it takes to track a food from a Walmart store back to the source to minutes, compared with days or sometimes weeks, the partners are claiming.