Walmart Eyes Stricter Controls in China
By Pan Demetrakakes
Walmart is putting into place a stringent method of food-chain tracking and verification to ensure the safety of meat produced in China.
Blockchain, developed by an offshoot of the Linux Foundation, is an open-sourced technology that enables businesses to develop what amounts to an indelible ledger. It’s the technology that underlies Bitcoin, the global internet currency.
Blockchain provides a permanent record of transactions which are then grouped in blocks that cannot be altered. It could serve as an alternative to traditional paper tracking and manual inspection systems, which can leave supply chains vulnerable to inaccuracies. When used in a supply chain, blockchain can keep track of how products flow from producers to retailers more transparently and reliably than systems based on scanning barcodes or using RFID tags.
In theory, blockchain data could include farm origins, factory data, temperature records, shipping records and more. The use of a blockchain system would make it harder to fake such data.
Walmart is developing blockchain for its supply chain in collaboration with IBM and China’s Tsinghua University.
“As advocates of promoting greater transparency in the food system for our customers, we look forward to working with IBM and Tsinghua University to explore how this technology might be used as a more effective food traceability solution,” said Frank Yiannas, Walmart’s vice president for food safety.
Safety in the food supply chain is an ongoing concern in China, highlighted by scandals like the contamination of milk and infant formula with melamine that killed six children in 2008.