Blockchain technology can revolutionize the food supply chain, says IBM VP

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02 Nov 2018 — Blockchain technology has the potential to revolutionize the food supply chain as manufacturers are forced to respond to consumer pressure on transparency of sourcing and the supply chain in general. This was stated by Ramesh Gopinath, vice president of Blockchain Solutions at IBM, with whom he spoke FoodIngedientsFirst at the Future Food Tech Summit in London last month. He discussed the launch of the IBM Food Trust platform, which is now commercially available.

A number of retailers, logistics companies and growers are working with the blockchain technology developed by IBM – the IBM Food Trust blockchain network – adopting revolutionary technology to improve the traceability of certain food products in the food supply chain. The blockchain-based cloud network offers food companies and suppliers data from around the food ecosystem to enable greater traceability, transparency and efficiency.

Last month, FoodIngredientsFirst reported that Carrefour, Europe's largest retailer, is adopting the blockchain which will soon help to track food back to its origin in seconds, unlike traditional transactions, with plans to expand to all Carrefour brands within 2022. The network is now generally available after 18 months of testing, during which retailers and suppliers have tracked millions of individual food items.

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Ramesh Gopinath, Vice-President
at Blockchain Solutions at IBM

Carrefour's move comes just a couple of weeks after Walmart, one of the first advocates of blockchain technology, announced that its green leaf suppliers would be needed to acquire digital, end-to-end traceability information using IBM Food Trust. The new one of these major retailers indicates that their suppliers will have little choice but to go on the medium-term blockchain bandwagon before it becomes a prerequisite.

"The IBM Food Trust product itself is a platform for the reliable sharing of authorized information in the food ecosystem, which is exciting for us because of many of the problems we see today in the food ecosystem, including fraud. food security and food waste Food wastage is an important issue because many more organic food is produced than is consumed, for example, "says Gopinath.

A lot of these problems we see today can be traced to the food supply chain – from the grower to the packer, to the supplier and then to the retailer with the logistics companies along the way, "he notes. it happens as it should, so this is the platform for collaborative exchange. Once the platform is positioned, supply chain flows for various food products mean that you can add value and solve many of the problems in the food system. "

Blockchain is very popular and topical in the food industry, but the technology itself is seen as elusive, according to Gopinath. "There's a lot of hype around it," he accepts. "The way I would like to describe it is if you look at the blockchain and its applications in this specific instance, IBM Food Trust, the problem you are trying to solve is the sharing of reliable information.If you have a farmer or a farmer, example, the way they should be considered is a platform for sharing information.The questions they should think about are: "how do I upload my information and share it with others?". How do I set up permissions so that only people who are allowed to see can see the information? "" Are the data? safe and secure? & # 39; "reflects.

These are the questions that companies should consider, says Gopinath. "They should also reflect on mechanics and ensure that all the information we appreciate can be viewed and shared when relevant, involving the system and solving food supply problems," he notes.

"Consumers are today the driving force in trust and transparency," says Gopinath. "We expect small and large third-party companies to deliver value on this platform too, so it's how we share and use this platform to deliver value to others," he concludes.

Although so far there have been few examples of its large-scale application, blockchain is a growing technology and many agile businesses and the food industry are adopting it as a transparency solution. Other sectors such as finance and retail use also use blockchain solutions.

Blockchain attributes and authorization data capacity allow network members to get a new level of reliable information. Transactions are backed by multiple parties, leading to an unchangeable single version of the truth, IBM says, as the momentum grows among users and third-party data providers on the network.

The IBM Food Trust network has expanded to focus on optimizing food supply, including creating insights into product freshness, reducing waste and creating a more collaborative and transparent supply chain.

IBM Food Trust uses a decentralized model to allow multiple participating members of the food supply chain – from growers to suppliers to retailers – to share details about the origin of food, process data and shipping information on a blockchain network authorized. A separate entity controls each node on the blockchain and all the data on the blockchain is encrypted. The decentralized network features allow all parties to work together to ensure that data is reliable.

Here you can see the full video interview with Gopinath.

By Elizabeth Green and Lucy Gunn

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