Computerworld

SA meat producer and supermarket chain trial IBM’s blockchain

Two South Australian businesses have been using IBM Food Trust for the last three months

Two South Australian businesses have signed up to participate in a pilot of a blockchain-based platform that is intended to allow the entire lifecycle of a food product to be traced.

The pilot involves meat processor Thomas Foods International (TFI) and independent grocery chain Drakes Supermarket, and is based on IBM Food Trust.

IBM in October last year announced general availability for the service, which it described as a “blockchain-based cloud network” that would offer “participating retailers, suppliers, growers and food industry providers with data from across the food ecosystem to enable greater traceability, transparency and efficiency.”

The launch came after 18 months of tests, which included tracing millions of individual food products. IBM said that the platform could be used to authenticate the origin of food, as well as help speed up investigations into cases of food contamination. It also offers opportunities to optimise food supply, the company said.

“Unlike traditional databases, the attributes of blockchain and the ability to permission data, enables network members to gain a new level of trusted information,” IBM said. “Transactions are endorsed by multiple parties, leading to an immutable single version of the truth.”

IBM offers three individual software-as-a-service modules: ‘Trace’, which is designed to help reduce food contamination and waste; ‘Certifications’ to help verify the provenance of a food idem; and a data entry and access module.

TFI and Drakes Supermarket have been testing the platform for three months, IBM said.

“TFI and Drakes are able to upload data into a shared platform and the life-cycle of the products being traced has been mapped across the organisations, allowing a product to be tracked as it moves through the supply chain,” the company said.

“By maintaining the individual data relating to each product instead of moving to data about grouped products, we are achieving a greater understanding of how each food item is moving through the supply chain,” said TFI’s Simon Tamke.

“This added level of transparency and verifiability will reinforce customers’ and consumers’ confidence in the provenance of our product and is made possible by blockchain technology.”

IBM recently announced that its blockchain platform, which is built on Hyperledger Fabric, is available from its Melbourne data centre. The company is expecting to make IBM Blockchain Platform available from its Sydney data centre in the near future.