C-store Suppliers Taking Part in IBM Supply Chain Trial

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C-store Suppliers Taking Part in IBM Supply Chain Trial

08/23/2017

CHICAGO and NEW YORK — Convenience store suppliers are among the food and retail companies that have joined IBM’s project to explore how effective blockchain technology might be in helping to improve food safety.

Instead of using a trusted third party to collect data, blockchain technology serves as a shared record of data that is maintained by a network of computers, according to a Reuters report.

In a joint statement, Kroger Co., Dole Food Co. Inc, McCormick & Co. Inc., Golden State Foods Corp., Driscoll's Inc., Berkshire Hathaway's McLane Co. and others confirmed that they are joining IBM in testing out how blockchain technology can be used to improve food safety and track food supply chains.

"Yes, the industry is cautious because this could be the next best thing since sliced bread, but you wouldn't say everything was fine and dandy after a trial you had with just two suppliers," said Howard Popoola, Kroger's head of food safety.

"The key right now is to involve suppliers and retailers and see how well we can share data to oil the IBM blockchain machine," Popoola added. "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."

In order to work effectively, blockchain relies on retailers collaborating with one another. And even with that collaboration, it could take years for participating companies to see the fruits of the collaboration, as Reuters' report pointed out.

Nonetheless, according to the report, blockchain has the potential to trace the mass production and distribution of food, which could make it markedly easier for companies to track potentially contaminated and recalled foods in the convenience channel and other food retail industries.