Nestle, Tyson, Unilever, and others join IBM’s blockchain

Nestle SA (VTX: NESN), Unilever NV (NYSE: UN), Tyson Foods Inc. (NYSE: TSN), Wal-Mart Inc. (NYSE: WMT) and many other food and retail companies have joined IBM (NYSE: IBM) and its blockchain technology to identify new areas where the global supply chain can benefit from it.

Blockchain, which first was through a digital ledger through cryptocurrency bitcoin, is a shared recorded of data maintained by a network of computers.

Blockchain is ideally suited to help combat problems that occur within the food chain supply. This can enable food providers and other members of the ecosystem to use a blockchain network to trace contaminated product to its source in a short amount of time to ensure removal of the contamination before it gets to stores or mitigate the damages quickly, according to IBM.

Without a blockchain system, it can take weeks or even months to identify the problem and can cause severe economic damage to many companies.

A single recall could cost anything from tens of thousands to millions of dollars in lost sales, Wal-Mart's head of food safety, Frank Yiannas, told Reuters last month.

So far, a total of 10 food and retail companies will join IBM and its blockchain technology. Companies such as Kroger Co., Dole Food Company, McCormick & Company Inc., and many others. Giants like Wal-Mart have already been with IBM and working on its blockchain technology.

“Unlike any technology before it, blockchain is transforming the way like-minded organizations come together and enabling a new level of trust based on a single view of the truth,” said Marie Wieck, general manager, IBM Blockchain. “Our work with organizations across the food ecosystem, as well as IBM’s new platform, will further unleash the vast potential of this exciting technology, making it faster for organizations of all sizes and in all industries to move from concept to production to improve the way business gets done.”

"It is not just about building the technology, it is about building the ecosystem," Brigid McDermott, vice president for blockchain business development at IBM, said.

"The key right now is to involve suppliers and retailers and see how well we can share data to oil the IBM blockchain machine. This is an opportunity for us to speak with one voice and say to the world that food safety is not going to be a competitive issue." Howard Popoola, Kroger’s head of food safety, told Reuters.

“Blockchain technology enables a new era of end-to-end transparency in the global food system – equivalent to shining a light on food ecosystem participants that will further promote responsible actions and behaviors. It also allows all participants to share information rapidly and with confidence across a strong trusted network. This is critical to ensuring that the global food system remains safe for all.” said Yiannis in IBM’s press release.

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