Beijing Time Dec.14, Walmart and JD.com, together with IBM and Tsinghua University National Engineering Laboratory for E-commerce Technologies jointly announced the establishment of China’s first Blockchain Food Safety Alliance, aimed to further strengthen cooperation related to food tracking, traceability and safety, enhance the transparency of China’s food supply chain and take a solid step towards ensuring consumers’ food safety.
The idea is to develop “a standards-based method of collecting data about the origin, safety and authenticity of food” with the jointly efforts of the four parties mentioned above, with blockchain serving as a technological basis for recording that information in real time. This would promote accountability and provide suppliers, regulators and consumers with a more in-depth and clear understanding of how food get circulated throughout the food supply chain from farm to table. Because of the fragmented and often-paper-based nature of the data which may easily lead to mistakes, it has always been a challenge to have a sound record of information.
The four parties will seek to connect businesses along the food supply chain and regulator, to reach standards, solutions and partnerships needed by China's food safety ecosystem. In this effort, IBM will provide blockchain platforms and expertise, while Tsinghua University will share its expertise in core technologies and China's food safety ecosystem as a technology consultant. IBM and Tsinghua University plan to cooperate with Walmart and JD to develop and optimize blockchain technology and extend it to more suppliers and retailers to join in the alliance.
As a world-class leader in global food safety, Walmart works closely with suppliers, regulators, industry partners and research institutions around the world. In China, Walmart makes great investment in the research of food safety through Walmart's Food Safety Collaborative Center and promotes food security through its supplier network and cooperation with JD who also has extensive management experience regarding food supply chain. Both parties will make use of JD's expertise in artificial intelligence (AI), blockchain, big data and application of other new technologies to jointly protect consumers' interest.
Early in August of this year, IBM and Walmart announced the establishment of the Food Safety Collaborative Alliance in the U.S. market. The announced cooperation today means that IBM will also introduce its expertise in blockchain food safety to China. IBM, Walmart and Tsinghua University have piloted the use of blockchain to trace the process of food from the supply chain to store shelves, including tracking pork in China and tracking mangoes in the U.S. Walmart's tests show that by applying blockchain technology, the time of tracing a bag of mangoes from a farm to a storefront has been reduced from two days or even weeks to only 2 seconds.
“As a global advocate for enhanced food safety, Walmart has taken the lead in carrying out pilot projects on food traceability using blockchain technology in both China and the U.S. since last year. Walmart looks forward to deepening our work with IBM, Tsinghua University, JD and others throughout the food supply chain. Through collaboration, standardization, and adoption of new and innovative technologies, we can effectively improve traceability and transparency and help ensure the global food system remains safe for all,” BenHassing, senior vice president of Walmart China’s E-commerce and Technology stated.
As China’s retail giant, JD set up a quality traceability and anti-counterfeiting alliance in June 2017 together with AQSIQ, MIIT, Ministry of Commerce, Ministry of Agriculture and numerous brands, dedicated to apply blockchain technology to ensure commodities' authenticity and quality. As the establishment of this alliance, Y Division of JD released an open platform with regards of blockchain anti-counterfeiting and traceability, for the present stage which is free for brands within JD ecosystem, JD has initially completed the access of blockchain anti-counterfeiting and traceability data of over 100 brands and 300 hot commodities. It is another important step taken by JD to join the Blockchain Food Safety Alliance aiming to promote blockchain anti-counterfeiting and traceability on food along Walmart, IBM and Tsinghua University National Engineering Laboratory for E-commerce Technologies.
Blockchain Food Safety Alliance was established to ensure the privacy of brands and to help them integrate their online and offline food's safety traceability and quality management channels. Enterprises which have already joined in the alliance will be able to share information with the help of blockchain and choose the best standards-based traceability method according to their needs and existing system. This will greatly promote transparency of supply chain and introduce new technologies to the retail industry, and create a safer food environment and enhance consumer experience.
Blockchain technology can greatly promote the transparency of the food supply chain, help improve processes such as food recalls and verification, and enhance consumers' confidence. The new attempt of introducing blockchain traceability in the Chinese market will be of great significance to China as well as the rest of the world in ensuring food safety based on blockchain technology.