CSCMP's Supply Chain Quarterly
November 22, 2019
Forward Thinking

Food retailers adopt blockchain platforms for track and trace

Organo picks IBM Food Trust, Bumble Bee joins SAP Cloud Platform Blockchain.

IBM Corp.'s blockchain-based product tracing platform for the food sector is gaining traction in the marketplace with the announcement July 11 that it will be adopted by Organo, a global provider of food, personal care, and cosmetic products.

Privately held Organo, which was founded in 2008 and is based in Richmond, British Columbia, operates a network of independent distributors and a "coffee connoisseur club" for consumers in the U.S. and Canada. The company has now joined IBM Food Trust, a blockchain-enabled global ecosystem for the food industry that is also used by the retailer Carrefour and other retailers, suppliers, growers, and food industry providers.

Armonk, N.Y.-based computer giant IBM launched the platform in 2018, saying it could provide trading partners with data from across the food ecosystem to enable greater traceability, transparency, and efficiency. Organo says it will use IBM Food Trust to create a platform called "Organo Products Trust" that will initially include the firm's five top-selling products from multiple product families. After those items are piloted, tested, and launched on the new platform, the company expects to add an additional five products by the end of the year, covering multiple market verticals including beverages, skin care, and dietary supplements.

In a similar move, Bumble Bee Foods said in May that it is using the enterprise software vendor SAP's Cloud Platform Blockchain service to improve its seafood traceability products, such as tracing the journey of yellowfin tuna from the Indonesian ocean to the dinner table.

By joining Food Trust, Organo says it will implement a traceability strategy by selectively sharing key information about its products with stakeholders such as consumers, supply partners, commerce partners, and distribution partners. That data will be shared in a highly secured and permissioned way on the blockchain, which is a distributed ledger of information that can be viewed by many partners but only edited by a consensus of all its users.

"Unlike other consumable product ingredients, trust does not have an expiry date," Organo Managing Director of Global Strategy Leonard Chin said in a release. "The Organo Products Trust platform allows our stakeholders to scan a product to interact with detailed information, including product source, quality assurance, logistics, inspection reports, supplier data, commerce platforms and more. We are pioneering an entirely new relationship between our supply chain and consumers based on our new Vertical Markets EcoSystemModel."

According to IBM, Food Trust is a blockchain-based information-sharing platform that securely connects supply chain data across the ecosystem with trust and transparency. In addition to providing provenance insights, members of the network are realizing benefits such as optimized supply chain processes, increased freshness, improved food safety, minimized waste and fraud, and more, the company said. Built on Hyperledger Fabric-based open source technology, Food Trust uses a governance model to ensure companies can set rules about who can see the data they upload to the solution and for how long, and that they maintain control of their data even after it has been uploaded to Food Trust.

IBM also supports blockchain platforms for logistics in several other sectors. Working in collaboration with global container carrier Maersk Line, the company operates a blockchain-enabled joint venture called "TradeLens," which was launched in 2018 and now includes at least 94 logistics organizations.

IBM is also teaming with KPMG, Merck, and Walmart to pilot a program in support of the U.S. Drug Supply Chain Security Act (DSCSA) that addresses requirements to identify, track, and trace prescription medicines and vaccines distributed within the U.S., Walmart said in June.

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