When the world’s largest retailer tells you to implement its blockchain technology, you’d best listen.
In a press release Walmart announced its Walmart Food Traceability Initiative, asking its suppliers of leafy green produce to start using the blockchain-based tracking system it created with IBM by September 2019.
This is not the first time Walmart has asked its suppliers to use blockchain to track their food shipments. However, the impetus this time was the romaine lettuce E. coli outbreak that originated in Arizona earlier this year. That outbreak resulted in 210 confirmed cases, caused 96 hospitalizations and five deaths. It also prompted tons of lettuce to be thrown out by consumers because they could not be sure it was grown in the area where the contamination was found, Walmart said.
That’s why, according to Walmart’s letter to suppliers, any company working with Walmart must implement the IBM Food Trust network to make it easier for Walmart to source any food items quickly. As its release puts it, “Blockchain changes everything.”
“Walmart believes the current one step up and one step back model of food traceability is outdated for the 21st century and that by working together we can do better,” the letter states. “There is no question that there is a strong public-health and business-case for enhanced food traceability.”
Using blockchain to quickly trace leafy greens back to the source during an outbreak minimizes health impacts. It’s also good for Walmart’s grocery business because “the implication and associated losses of unaffected products that are inaccurately linked to an outbreak can be avoided.”