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by Christopher Tozzi, Oct 18, 2018

IBM’s Food Trust Blockchain Is Now Ready for the Masses


Food Tech

IBM has announced the general availability of its Food Trust blockchain platform, as well as more information about how many companies are actually using the enterprise system.

Food Trust is a blockchain designed to help people trust what they consume by recording information about the food supply chain on a distributed ledger. In that sense, it solves an obvious and pressing problem for consumers, who increasingly want to know where their food originated, how fresh it is and that what grocers claim about the food they buy is actually true. 

At the same time, Food Trust helps enterprises work better together on the food supply chain by creating a transparent register of data to show how food is transferred from vendor to vendor.

IBM announced Food Trust in August 2017, with support from companies including Walmart, Dole, Nestlé and Kroger, among others.

Bringing Food Trust Mainstream

Earlier this month, IBM announced that after 18 months of testing, Food Trust is now generally available.

The announcement also touted the decision by Carrefour, a major European grocer and retailer, to adopt Food Trust to help manage the supply chain for products that it sells under its own brand. Carrefour’s goal is “to provide our clients with safe and undoubted traceability,” Laurent Vallée, general secretary of Carrefour, said in the announcement. 

IBM also reported that Food Trust is now being used by suppliers including BeefChain, Dennick Fruit Source, Scoular and Smithfield, as well as American retail food conglomerates Topco Associates (which owns a variety of common brands, such as Shurfine and Clear Value) and Wakefern (whose supermarket brands include Shoprite, among others).

IBM said as well that it is working with food storage and transport companies, including 3M and Emerson, to build solutions that can use sensors and Food Trust APIs to collect data about food automatically as it travels down the supply chain, and then record the data to the blockchain.

Who’s Really Using Food Trust? 

Critics might note that the list of Food Trust users announced by IBM this month does not include any of the names that Big Blue mentioned when it announced the initiative that became Food Trust in August 2017. It’s unclear, then, how many of the early collaborators are still using the platform. 

Nor is it certain how extensively the companies that IBM named recently are actually using Food Trust currently; Carrefour, for example, reported only that it plans to expand Food Trust to all of its brands by 2022, but said nothing about how many of its brands are using the solution today or will use it in the near future.

What is clear, however, is that Food Trust is enjoying some momentum and that there are rich opportunities for partners across the food supply chain — from transport companies to retailers — to leverage IBM’s enterprise blockchain for increasing transparency into the origins of the food we eat.