How killer bacteria put food supplies on the blockchain

Blockchain is set to make big changes to how food makes its way from farm to table. A recent report by Juniper Research found that tracking food through the supply chain using blockchain and Internet of Things (IoT) technology will save $31 billion in food fraud by 2024, and reduce compliance costs by 30%.

Just last week, global salmon farming firm Cermaq and French food company Labeyrie became the latest to put their food supply chain on the blockchain, announcing that they will be using IBM’s Food Trust solution. Launched last year, it brings together a network of producers, manufacturers, suppliers, and retailers in pursuit of food traceability and efficiency through blockchain technology. 

Cermaq and Labeyrie’s implementation of the IBM Food Trust blockchain will see the firms use QR codes to trace salmon from hatchery to farm, tracking which vaccinations the fish have received and even what they’ve been fed. They join the ranks of several other major businesses all using IBM’s blockchain solution to help keep food safe, including a veritable seafood platter’s worth of shrimp and scallop suppliers. But what triggered this pattern, and why use a blockchain?

“Today, transparency and efficiency in the food supply chain are limited by opaque data forcing each company to rely on intermediaries and paper-based records,” said Dr Morgane Kimmich, author of Juniper Research’s report. “Blockchain and the IoT provide an immutable, shared platform for all actors in the supply chain to track and trace assets; saving time, resources and reducing fraud.”

One of the first companies to initialize the Food Trust within their operations was Walmart. A partner from the very start, Walmart set out asking its ecosystem of leafy green suppliers to join the initiative, providing a deadline of January 2019. One of the main reasons for the hasty onboarding of suppliers was the 2018 utbreak of E.Coli that contaminated supplies of romaine lettuce across America. The source of the…

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