Retail major, Walmart, has taken the blockchain route to keep its farm products as fresh as possible and root out low-quality suppliers after an E-Coli outbreak in romaine lettuce at one of its outlets sickened more than 200 customers during April. It has laid out a strict policy that all its suppliers of leafy green vegetables should be able to trace the origin of delivery lots back to the farm within a few seconds. To do this, Walmart’s suppliers would have to adopt blockchain technology that would enable them to track each production lot according to date. Blockchain is a computer technology in which computers within a network contribute to a shared public ledger so that automated systems work in sync without intervention of central authority.
In a recent press release, both Walmart and Sam’s Club stated that they have asked their suppliers of leafy greens, used in salads dressings, to apply blockchain technology in their systems so that they can trace products back to the farm. It said that all suppliers have been given an ultimatum to have the systems in place by Sept–Oct next year. IBM’s “Food Trust Solution” is an alternative that the suppliers can use as it employs blockchain technology to create a transparent and secure tracking system that can be used in food industry and is being used by Walmart too.
Supply chain management, which manages flow of goods and services around the world, is being considered as the biggest opportunity for adoption of blockchain technology as companies have to coordinate this flow across long distances by creating a complex system that can be tough to track. Several other industries are also testing the viability of blockchain to help in areas like sustainability, resolving frequent issues and even ethical manufacturing. According to a recent survey by PricewaterhouseCoopers, around 84 percent of companies around the world today are involved in blockchain technology.