October 20, 2016

Wal-Mart partners with IBM to track food shipments in China

Retailers will use blockchain software to trace meat and vegetables through supply chain.

By DC Velocity Staff

Wal-Mart Stores Inc. has announced a partnership with IBM Corp. to use "blockchain" software technology to improve its track and trace capabilities on food shipments in China.

Working in collaboration with China's Tsinghua University, the partners will track shipments of meat, vegetables, and other products through the Chinese supply chain in an effort to improve food safety and reduce contamination.

Blockchain technology can provide better supply chain transparency than manual, paper-based approaches by creating a secure, digital record of transactions that preserves the chain of custody as goods flow from suppliers to distributors to retailers. That process is particularly important in food logistics, where expired or counterfeit products can pose safety risks to consumers.

Also known as distributed ledger technology, blockchain is a shared, immutable software record for recording the history of transactions, IBM says. Until recently, the technology was known primarily for being the foundation of the bitcoin online electronic currency, but has recently been adopted for business use in industries such as finance, banking, and healthcare.

"Advanced technology has reached into so many aspects of modern life, but it has lagged in food traceability, and in particular in creating more secure food supply chains," IBM's Bridget van Kralingen, senior vice president, industry platforms, said in a release.

Walmart will use the technology in its recently opened Walmart Food Safety Collaboration Center in Beijing.

Resources Mentioned In This Article

Technology Videos

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you're not already logged in, you will be asked to log in or register.

Subscribe to DC Velocity

Feedback: What did you think of this article? We'd like to hear from you. DC VELOCITY is committed to accuracy and clarity in the delivery of important and useful logistics and supply chain news and information. If you find anything in DC VELOCITY you feel is inaccurate or warrants further explanation, please ?Subject=Feedback - : Wal-Mart partners with IBM to track food shipments in China">contact Chief Editor David Maloney. All comments are eligible for publication in the letters section of DC VELOCITY magazine. Please include you name and the name of the company or organization your work for.