Blockchain technology has come a long way in the last ten years. Though it originates in the cryptocurrency industry, many people have recognized the benefits that come from having an honest and transparent distributed ledger, especially when it comes to supply change management. IBM has already created the Food Trust network as a way to track data for various stores. In an announcement today in Forbes, Albertsons Companies stated that they will be joining the group.
Albertsons has 2,300 locations in the United States alone and will start piloting the blockchain-based network to better examine the way that food goes from the farm to the grocery store. Anuj Dhanda, the Chief Information Officer with Albertsons, expressed support for blockchain technology, saying that it “has the power to be transformational” for Albertsons, as they focus on freshness. Food safety is a necessity for the grocery store chain and having the power to track the moves of their product and other products is invaluable.
The primary use of IBM Food Trust during the Albertsons pilot is to handle the troubles that they have had before with high-risk food products, like romaine lettuce. Bulk romaine lettuce will be the first of the produce that Albertsons aims to track, starting with the distribution centers. However, the company will eventually add this option to other products as well, especially if the pilot goes well.
The VP of Food Safety and Quality Assurance with Albertsons, Jerry Noland, commented that there are multiple entities that have voiced the need for tracing products to make it easier to find the source of contamination. With new reports, each month of food being contaminated in the United States, finding the source would help to stop these diseases from spreading. Multiple consumer advisories have expressed this sentiment through the years, including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Food and Drug Administration. The new technology’s implementation to this effect could easily improve the whole infrastructure that holds the global food supply chain together.
The IBM Food Trust network’s testing begun with Walmart in China three years ago. Soon after, other major brands signed on as well, like Nestle. In 2018, when the E-coli contamination for romaine lettuce was publicized, the vice president of food safety with Walmart said that the implementation of blockchain will reduce the severity and the length of these outbreaks. However, the widespread use of blockchain for these needs could easily be years away.