Albertsons Companies, one of the largest food and drug retailers in the United States, is joining the Blockchain-based IBM Food Trust network. The company's goal is to pilot the technology to improve how food is traced from farms to store shelves. The Albertsons' recent connection with the Food Trust ecosystem, a network that already has more than 80 brands, will bring Blockchain-based food traceability to many more consumers and industry players, like producers and retailers. Joining IBM's Food Trust Network will help enable greater transparency and collaboration, and ultimately, a safer food supply.
Raj Rao, General Manager, 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.”
“Today, we are focused on ensuring that the solution scales and is accessible to participants across the food ecosystem, such as Albertsons Companies. 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.” He added.
Most food supply chains are non-transparent manual processes, making it very difficult and time consuming to track down a problem when there is an issue with the food after it reaches its destination. Blockchain is a trustworthy and transparent system of record that establishes a shared environment for transactions for all participants. Basically each node on the Blockchain represents a place or entity that has handled the food on the way to the store, creating a digital record of transactions or interactions – from a packaging date, to the temperature at which an item was shipped, to its arrival on a grocery shelf.
Anuj Dhanda, Chief Information Officer, Albertsons Companies said:
“Blockchain technology has the potential to be transformational for us as we further build differentiation on our fresh brand,”
“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 added.
The growing number of participants using Blockchain technology helps address a broad range of food system issues, such as supply chain efficiency, freshness, waste reduction, sustainability and participants’ ability to verify certifications, such as fair trade and organic. Already, more than five million food products digitized on the solution are on retail shelves.
Albertsons Companies, with nearly 2,300 stores across the U.S., will start the pilot with Food Trust tracing bulk romaine lettuce from one of its distribution centers, then will explore expanding to other food categories throughout its distribution network. Albertsons Companies plans to pilot the solution to help overcome the obstacles that have existed when a traceback is initiated for a product like romaine and is evaluating ways to use the technology to highlight the provenance of its extensive Own Brands portfolio.
“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,” said Jerry Noland, VP of Food Safety & Quality Assurance, Albertsons Companies.
“Consequently, retailers are exploring new technologies to improve the infrastructure that underpins the global food supply chain.” He added.
By creating a transparent, secured information-sharing platform, the food ecosystem can benefit from greater efficiencies and lower barriers to critical information access to help make the food supply chain safer. Built on Hyperledger Fabric-based open source technology, the solution uses permissioning to ensure companies can set rules about who can see the data they upload to the solution and for how long, and that they maintain control of their data even after it has been uploaded to Food Trust.