The origins are very fashionable in modern life: stories of origin, family origins through DNA databases and digital genealogy.
Add the latest Walmart effort to gain more market share in the food industry: using blockchain technology to track the origin of the food sold by the retailer to the farms it comes from. The idea is to introduce greater transparency in the process, which could serve to prevent the onset of food-borne illnesses and encourage consumer confidence in food products on Walmart shelves.
In a new interview in PYMNTS, Karen Webster spoke with Frank Yiannas, vice president of Walmart for food safety, about the origins of the blockchain initiative, overcoming skepticism and why the retailer starts with green leafy vegetables.
The Walmart interview and the blockchain initiative come between increasingly important roles for technology in payments and in commerce. No longer limited to the virtual currency world, the blockchain is finding use in the US U.S. Navy to track the parts of aviation, simplify high volume B2B transactions and facilitate commercial finance and other activities.
Food safety is part of the blockchain promise for the largest retailer in the world.
"Walmart is not chasing blockchain technology because it's this shiny new currency," said Yiannas to Webster, "but to improve the food system."
In fact, Yiannas described himself as a "skeptic" about the use of the blockchain to make it easier for Walmart to track the food he sells – just as food makes its way from the ground, trees or ponds and onto customers' plates. However, after a year of work and commitment that involved IBM, which led to the launch of the blockchain system with 11 food companies, it is a big fan.
Blockchain – as commonly known – is a decentralized, distributed and digital form of record keeping. This is one of the reasons why Yianna supports it for spending, since the central attributes of the blockchain (in addition to the digital part) can also describe much of the food system.
"It's a duplication of what the food system is," he said.
Tracking Supply Quicker
It is not just a poetic satisfaction.
Keeping track of food supplies – thinking of a bunch of apples, for example – is traditionally a slow, laborious, paper-focused process. Overall, it may take days to track down the origin of perishable goods, which could end up in someone's stomach before any warning of a foodborne illness reaches consumers.
According to the results of Walmart's pilot blockchain with IBM, the seven days needed to track down food were reduced to 2.2 seconds. However, the speed – more specifically, the speed in public health service and good public relations retail (PR) – was not the only motivation behind the Walmart blockchain grocery initiative.
"The food system has changed a lot," said Yiannas, "with more producers and more complications. [safe]but a food sickness is too much ".
Blockchain seems well suited to such a world, in which a Walmart-sized retailer carries tens of thousands of food-related storage units (SKUs).
So, how will it work properly outside of Walmart? Here's a tip (right warning) that could give some readers a flash of childhood trauma: "Eat your spinach!"
The blockchain initiative focuses on fresh and leafy vegetables – not just spinach, but lettuce and related foods. These foods, in general, represent more uses per week for the average consumer. Although these foods are relatively safe, those vegetables – as seen recently with a lure of Roman lettuce – are, in fact, sometimes a source of disease.
In addition, there are "large food grids" associated with the production and distribution of those green leafy vegetables, making them a natural choice for Walmart's initial blockchain grocery initiative. When asked why the chain started in that particular food area, he joked, "We do not necessarily avoid big problems at Walmart."
& # 39; Capture transparency & # 39;
The strength of Walmart's shopping blockchain is to "capture transparency" up to the origin of the supply chain. "We want to be able to go back to the farms or farms where it comes from," Yiannis said.
Transparency is "sunny", he added, stating that transparency will lead suppliers to apply better, more rigorous and autonomous principles to their food operations. This is not something to be rejected when it comes to Walmart, its mastery of the supply chain and its power over suppliers who have long been a source of praise and criticism around the world.
Public health has come a long way since the canned vegetables dominated family menus – when a mother could stick to a particular brand because she had bought products of the same brand for years and had never thought about it. However, blockchain could now represent a new digital counterweight to those risks, putting the mother's mind at ease.