Unilever, Walmart and Nestle are starting a major blockchain project with IBM looking at global food supply chain safety


Retailers and food producers will use blockchain to track food supply (Source: Getty)

Unilever, Nestle, Walmart and a handful of the world's top retail and food brands are joining forces to tackle food safety with the help of blockchain technology.

The 10 companies will work with IBM on a new project that will look at how the distributed ledger technology (DLT) behind bitcoin could be used to track the global supply chain.

Getting the growers, suppliers, distributors and retailers on the blockchain could help identify the source of contaminated food more quickly and easily, reducing the impact on public health and lost revenue for companies.

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Other companies involved include Dole, Driscoll’s, Golden State Foods, Kroger, McCormick and Company, McLane Company and Tysons Foods.

They will work with IBM to identify where and how the blockchain tech could add value and plan to embark on several pilot projects.

“Unlike any technology before it, blockchain is transforming the way like-minded organisations come together and enabling a new level of trust based on a single view of the truth,” said general manager for IBM blockchain Marie Wieck.

“Our work with organisations across the food ecosystem, as well as IBM’s new platform, will further unleash the vast potential of this exciting technology, making it faster for organisations of all sizes and in all industries to move from concept to production to improve the way business gets done.”

It's the latest effort by IBM to get more businesses adopting the technology after launching an accelerator earlier this year.

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In separate trials with Walmart in the US and China, IBM demonstrated how the technology could track prooduce from farm to shelf.

“Blockchain technology enables a new era of end-to-end transparency in the global food system – equivalent to shining a light on food ecosystem participants that will further promote responsible actions and behaviours. It also allows all participants to share information rapidly and with confidence across a strong trusted network," said Walmart food safety vice president Frank Yiannas.

"This is critical to ensuring that the global food system remains safe for all," he added.