Walmart Wants to Apply Blockchain to Other Products Beyond Pork

Trying to make pork products in China safer was just the first step of Walmart’s global plans for blockchain.

AccessTimeIconOct 25, 2016 at 1:23 p.m. UTC
Updated Sep 11, 2021 at 12:34 p.m. UTC

Trying to make pork products in China safer was just the first step of Walmart’s global plans for blockchain.

The pilot unveiled last week uses technology from the Hyperledger project to track pork shipping information, including farm origination details, batch numbers and storage temperatures on a secure blockchain.

Over the months ahead, the retail giant wants to expand on that work. Walmart vice president of global food safety Frank Yiannas told CoinDesk that, in anticipation of a successful pilot launch, the company is already looking to the future for other applications.

Yiannas told CoinDesk:

"We will immediately work to identify additional food products where we might utilize blockchain to enhance our ability to track and trace them."

If successful, the project could improve accountability on a major supply chain (pork is China's most popular meat product). Walmart is undertaking the project in partnership with IBM and Tsinghua University in Beijing.

Following the completion of the trial, Yiannas said Walmart will work with IBM on additional applications, including other supply chains that could be tracked via blockchain.

Blockchain side-effects

But it’s not just healthier food that Yiannas believes will be among the final results of building blockchain into a number of industries in China and around the world.

Yiannas says the safer conditions resulting from a more transparent, accurate record of supply chain transactions on a blockchain could have an overall impact on the Walmart brand.

He remarked:

"Examples of the benefits could include safer food, enhanced consumer trust, enhanced flow to provide fresher products to customers, fresher and faster deliveries could reduce food waste in the home, and more."

The $213b global retailer has long been working to ensure that products which reach its stores meet certain standards, but continues to face related lawsuits.

Walmart was sued earlier this year because cheese products it sold allegedly contained wood pulp, and last year the retailer settled charges over a corn starch it sold that claimed to be "all natural" but actually included genetically modified material.

Image via Walmart

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