Walmart Now Requires Vegetable Suppliers To Use Blockchain To Help Trace Produce Contamination Outbreaks

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This is a day that could possibly go down in history, as Walmart is now requiring that all of their suppliers of vegetables use a blockchain tracking platform to help guard against contaminated product spreading rapidly. The idea is that by using the blockchain platform, record keeping will be easier, and the records of movements of any shipments can be quickly retrieved. With a rise in the outbreak of contaminated vegetables and fruits hitting the shelves of markets in recent years, this is a move that was needed, as reported by Blockonomi.

The reason it’s such a big deal is that no one else is doing it, or even really talking about doing it. To be more accurate, no one else is doing it on the scale that Walmart will. From a public health standpoint, this is a positive step toward helping mitigate the chances of people getting sick via contaminated vegetables reaching store shelves. The quicker the source of a shipment can be traced back, the quicker everything from that source can be removed from store aisles.

As one of the problems allowing recent E-coli outbreaks to spread so quickly being the use of archaic, often paper-based tracking systems for produce shipments, a new solution was needed, as reported by TechCrunch. For Walmart, this is also a bit of a public relations coup as they can point to it as a way they are keeping their customers safe, while other chains are not. Also, it is the first step in making the blockchain a bigger part of how they do business.

Walmart is not requiring their suppliers to adopt immediately, but they will have to adapt quickly. The system they are using is an IBM tracking platform that was designed with Fintech in mind but will work just as well in logistics as the technology can be used in nearly incalculable ways. There is no word if Walmart will be providing any direct assistance to suppliers in transitioning at this time.

Bridget van Kralingen, IBM’s senior VP for Global Industries, Platforms and Blockchain talked to TechCrunch about the platform.

“We built the IBM Food Trust solution using IBM Blockchain Platform, which is a tool or capability that IBM has built to help companies build, govern and run blockchain networks. It’s built using Hyperledger Fabric (the open source digital ledger technology) and it runs on IBM Cloud.”

What this all means for the end consumer is that rather than just knowing where something was produced and sold, there will be an entire tracking history from genesis to end user. Anything suspected of contamination can be located immediately, even in transit. According to CoinTelegraph, that means better quality products on the shelf, higher consumer confidence, and even the potential for Walmart to charge more for those factors if they want to market it that way.