Walmart, Nestle and Unilever join IBM foodchain

Nestle, Unilever, Tyson and others have joined the IBM foodchain project. Other large food and retail companies on Tuesday declared to join the IBM-led blockchian technology project to help track food supplies. A network technology of this developed chain will improve food security and prevent other problems.

Tinuku Walmart, Nestle and Unilever join IBM foodchain

Other companies that join to share data and run trials with IBM are Kroger Co, Dole Food Company Inc., McCormick & Company Inc., Golden State Foods Corp., Driscoll's Inc. and Berkshire Hathaway's McLane Co. Walmart Stores Inc. also participated and has been working with IBM since October to track the distribution of food products.

Blockchain technology first emerged as the underlying system of bitcoin systems. Each cryptocurrency transaction is recorded in a ledger as a shared data maintained by a computer network, and not a third party. This blockchain system is theoretically impossible to manipulate.

"It's not just about building technology, it's building an ecosystem. The blockchain food security program is great because it provides transparency into the food system. You can quickly, effectively, address the problem," says Brigid McDermott, vice president for blockchain business development at IBM.

Wal-Mart in June conducted a blockchain test to track the distribution of mangoes in just 2.2 seconds from about seven days if using traditional techniques that cost up to millions of dollars. Walmart says their technology is still very early and may take a lot of time.

"The industry is very concerned. The key is to engage suppliers and retailers to see how well data is shared. This is an opportunity for us to one attitude and tell the world that food safety will not be an issue," said Kroger's head of food safety, Howard Popoola.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported earlier this month that salmonella outbreaks were traced back to contaminated papaya and infected 173 people. The World Health Organization reports an average of 420,000 people die each year from food poisoning.

IBM has also launched a blockchain platform to enable large companies to develop applications. Blockchain has the ability to very quickly track the hundreds of parties involved in mass production and food distribution to facilitate the identification of potential contamination sources.

"IBM has spent a lot of time coding and creating real products that you can start using.There is a legitimate framework and substance in terms of products, technology available.This is substantial and real," said Walmart's vice president of food safety, Frank Yiannas.