After 18 months of rigorous testing, demos, and individual use cases, IBM has finally launched their first blockchain application – the IBM Food Trust. This marks the end of scepticism towards the usability of blockchain and shows a real-world application of the technology on the food supply chain. Introducing a new collaborative approach to companies on a distributed ledger shows a new era of business models on a distributed network.
According to Brigid McDermott, the Vice President of the IBM Food Trust, what makes the project truly remarkable, besides being the first real blockchain application, is that it overcomes the five hurdles of blockchain implementation.
These hurdles of blockchain implementation are:
- Building an ecosystem with plenty of parties with diverse roles
- Creating value for all parties – forming a monetary or non-monetary motivation to participate for all parties
- Implementing a governance structure to data and access rights, as different parties are enabled to view and add diverse information
- Ensure interoperability and standardization – the technology needs to work through different industries, continents, and regulations
- Building all this on top of an enterprise technology, the IBM Food Trust should complement and communicate with the enterprise software of the individual companies’ use
One of the key areas that the IBM Food Trust could significantly improve is recalls. Recalls tend to be wasteful and expensive, as many times it is not possible to identify the exact origin of an item; hence, the whole range is removed with perfectly safe products going to the bin alongside the recalled items. In the web of interconnected companies, distributors and suppliers find that it is hard to find the right information. The IBM Food Trust clears the landscape and provides complete transparency and traceability.
The Food Trust has three main modules:
- Tracking of food products across ecosystems and borders
- Certification verifies the products as fair-trade, organic, and so on
- Data entry and access allows companies to upload, access, and manage data in the system
The pricing for the first two modules starts from $100/month for small businesses with less than $50 million in revenues and escalates according to the size of the company.
Among the first adopters we can find are the French retailer Carrefour with 12 000 stores in 33 countries their cooperatives, Topco associates, and Wakefern, and the suppliers – Beefchain, Smithfield, and Dennick Fruit Source. Nestle, Kroger, Unilever, and Tyson Foods are also among the first participants of the IBM Food Trust.
With the IBM Food Trust, we can see the beginning of a new era where blockchain is more than just a myth, but a real tool to improve enterprise services and customers’ lives. The Food Trust will ensure transparency and traceability across the web of the food supply chain and help us to consume better, safer, and with more trust.
What is your opinion? Do you think the IBM Food Trust will become a widely adopted solution in the food industry?