While companies including Amazon, Facebook, and Microsoft have all announced the fact that they’re doing work in blockchain, this is one of the early and very few tangible use cases announced by a major Fortune 500 company.
Walmart has been piloting the technology on IBM’s Food Trust blockchain for 18 months, using it to track everything from mangoes to chicken. The result, is a reduction of time it takes to track a food from a Walmart Store back to the source in minutes, compared to days or sometimes weeks, Walmart said.
Blockchain is the technology that underlies cryptocurrencies like bitcoin. It records transactions on a public, distributed ledger and gets rid of the need for a third party in most cases and is touted as faster and more secure by advocates.
Even when E. coli outbreaks are able to determine affected areas and get the foods out of grocery stores, Walmart said millions of heads of romaine lettuce had to be removed from the market place, and consumers lost confidence regardless of the region it was grown in.
Despite few real announcements, blockchain has been a corporate buzzword this year. According to PwC’s 2018 Global Blockchain Survey, which included 600 executives from 15 territories, 84 percent of them said their companies are “actively involved” with the technology.
While WalMart did not say how much the blockchain move would cost farmers, IBM launched a site to walk suppliers through onboarding, and aims to implement a “user-friendly, low-cost” transition.
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