International Business Machines Corp. (IBM) has announced a new blockchain collaboration with nine leading global food giants including Wal-Mart Stores Inc. (WMT), Unilever (UL) and Nestle (NSRGY), which will enable them to trace sources of food contamination within seconds.
The new partnership is intended to help traditional food industry players revamp their data management processes and combat food contamination following a summit last month called by the European Union’s food safety commissioner. IBM says the distributed ledger technology will help boost consumer health by keeping digital records of a complex system of transactions. With the digital data, food companies will receive instantaneous access to details about the origin, condition and movement of their products.
Looking to Improved Transparency, Efficiency, Security
“Blockchain technology enables a new era of end-to-end transparency in the global food system—equivalent to shining a light on food ecosystem participants that will further promote responsible actions and behaviors,” said Frank Yiannas, VP of Food Safety at Wal-Mart.
Blockchain, created by the founder of the digital currency Bitcoin, Satoshi Nakamoto, works as a decentralized log of data that runs on a network of computers. Many foresee the technology providing a more transparent and secure network of information, applicable across industry verticals outside of where most associate it within financial services. (See also: Bitcoin to Surge 80% to $5,000, Ethereum to Double: Analyst.)
"We see other industries like energy, healthcare and marketing, looking at transformation that really could be happening," said Brigid McDermott, IBM's VP for blockchain business development, in an interview with CNBC. As global food giants integrate blockchain into their supply chains, IBM says it’s just a matter of time before all major sectors of the economy will consider using the technology to boost security, efficiency and transparency in their businesses. (See also: Blockchain Technology Could Revolutionize In-Message Payments.)