Blockchain has officially entered the grocery aisles. Walmart has announced that it is now testing new blockchain technology to track and trace produce in U.S. stores and pork in China.
PYMNTS covered the testing and lead-up to the kickoff back in November. Now, the technology and use of it are even closer.
It’s a pilot program, where sliced apples and cut broccoli will be used to test the blockchain database technology for four months starting in the first quarter of 2017. The plan indicates that, if all goes well, the concept will change how Walmart stores monitor food in terms of safety measures. Walmart serves more than 260 million customers weekly, so the the new blockchain technology is intended to increase food safety, pull down costs and keep customers smiling because they’ll be healthier.
After the four-month pilot, Walmart’s partners — International Business Machines Corp. and Tsinghua University in Beijing — are on board to evaluate the results.
Quickly down the line, the plan is also to expand the scope of what’s tracked to include products beyond pork and produce.
Involving blockchain technology in businesses as a ledger-type monitoring mechanism is something many companies are beginning to consider and tinker with. The Wall Street Journal reported that 42 percent of consumer goods and manufacturing businesses are plotting to spend $5 million on blockchain technology investment in 2017. The overarching appeal and concept is to focus on how items are transferred and transactions are handled. In Walmart’s case, the blockchain technology includes a focus on food safety and to avoid affecting customer health after purchasing certain products.
Back in October, Walmart started testing the technology by tracking produce in the U.S. and pork products in China. Thousands of packages were tracked this way, developing a database of transactions between growers, distributors and retailers, all recorded securely and robustly.
The biggest challenge, experts say, could be onboarding certain parties in the chain — for example, setting up the technology to connect with farmers and related workers who will need to implement the concept and insert data into the technology.
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