Walmart, Sam & # 39; s Club implements Blockchain for food safety

People go shopping in the production section of the Walmart store

Big steps come in blocks (tiny, tamper-proof): Walmart and his unit Sam & # 39; s Club are ready to implement a new food safety blockchain solution. The distribution giant collaborated with IBM to develop the new technology, set up for implementation with all green leafy vegetable suppliers by September 2019.

But why blockchain? Put simply, blockchain technology makes the processing of goods – such as lettuce, for example – traceable, transparent, immediate and completely digital. Each conductor of each vegetable receives a representation node, documenting each phase of a piece of product on his journey from the farm to the shelf.

Blockchain allows companies to check the quality, freshness and organic assessments of products quickly and efficiently, making it extremely valuable for large retailers like Walmart, as consumers are expecting more and more information about the origins of their food. Advanced technology also offers greater security. Contamination by E. coli, for example? Blockchain can isolate the source with end-to-end product traceability in real time.

Transmission of events via IBM Food Trust

The digital ledger created by IBM records the activities of the real world in the life of a food product based on six events in the standard supply chain:

1. Commission

This is the first step: creating an object. The official example of IBM's supply chain, apple sauce, begins with picking apples on a farm. Apples collected, commissioned product.

2. Deactivation

Decomposition means the cancellation of an object. Perhaps apples fail to meet quality standards, or a weather event delays loading. If the product leaves the supply chain, it is officially dismantled.

3. Aggregation

The process of grouping, collecting or packaging multiple objects is called "aggregation". For example, the collection of 10 apples, their packaging in a custody and their loading onto a delivery truck completes the aggregation phase. In a product life cycle that includes processing, the product will be aggregated multiple times.

4. Transformation

"Transformation" involves an irreversible change in a product. In the example of the IBM apple, the act of apples transformed into a puree would be recorded as a transformation. The apples will never return to their original state, nor will the producer send the apple purée to the farm to make new apples. The transformation into a product is irreversible.

5. Breakdown

The opposite of grouping or packaging, disaggregation involves the dismantling of a product from its shipping package. This would involve breaking down a pallet of apples into apple boxes and then removing the apple boxes to access the individual apples.

The disaggregation also includes the phase in which a retailer receives a pallet of pureed jars, after which the staff unloads the pallet for the containers and, finally, the customer-friendly packages for the customers.

6. Observation

This event includes methods of observation, such as scanning an item in a store or registering a store inventory. The observation in the blockchain marks the official receipt of a product: it has arrived!

The future of responsibility

The Food Trust solution is built using Hyperledger Fabric, an open source digital register technology already popular for supply chain applications. It works on IBM clouds and significantly reduces the time needed to ensure access to relevant information. Without tracing via blockchain, Walmart generally took seven days to track down the food source. With the blockchain, the same process takes 2.2 seconds.

Walmart will enter its personal data to customize the blockchain system and create a complete index of locations (including farms, warehouses, manufacturers and shippers), specific items and lot data. The system creates full responsibility – and a new level of security – at every step.

Image Credit: Sundry Photography /

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