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August 22, 2017

IBM, Nestle & Walmart tackle food contamination with blockchain alliance

Big Blue launches a new Blockchain Platform to help organisations tap into the potential benefits of the technology.

By James Nunns

IBM is expanding its blockchain portfolio by collaborating with some of the largest food producers and distributers in the world.

Along with collaborating with the likes of Nestle, Unilever, Walmart, Golden State Foods, and more, IBM is hoping to apply blockchain technology to improve consumer confidence in the global food system.

Recently, consumer trust in food has been hit by safety concerns such as the egg contamination scandal, and salmonella in papayas. The World Health Organisation found that around 400,000 people die every year due to contaminated food and one-in-ten people will fall ill.

IBM believes that blockchain is ideally suited to addressing issues such as cross-contamination, unnecessary waste, and combating loss of revenue due to product re calls, an issue that is exacerbated by a lack of access to information and traceability.

Read more: IBM on winning the beauty contest of Cloud 3.0

Blockchain could, in theory, help solve these problems due to it establishing a trusted environment for all transactions.

Big Blue says that for a global food supply chain, all participants such as suppliers, growers, processors, distributors and so on, will have permissioned access to information that can be trusted. The blockchain network is then acting in essence as a high-tech log book that could be used to trace the contaminated products back to source.

“Unlike any technology before it, blockchain is transforming the way like-minded organizations come together and enabling a new level of trust based on a single view of the truth,” said Marie Wieck, general manager, IBM Blockchain.

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IBM Blockchain

“Our work with organizations across the food ecosystem, as well as IBM’s new platform, will further unleash the vast potential of this exciting technology, making it faster for organizations of all sizes and in all industries to move from concept to productionto improve the way business gets done.”

It’s not only the food supply chain that IBM is interested in when it comes to applying blockchain technology, the company is looking at all market opportunities.

With this in mind, Big Blue is introducing a fully integrated, enterprise-grade production blockchain platform, in addition to consulting services.

Named the IBM Blockchain Platform and available via the IBM Cloud, the platform is designed to make it easier for organisations to take advantage of blockchain technology and apply it to their own use cases.

Read more: A fork in the Bitcoin road – Good news for investors, bad news for blockchain

The product will include the Hyperledger Fabric v1.0 framework and Hyperledger Composer blockchain tool, both of which are hosted by the Linux Foundation.

The Blockchain Services part of the platform, which is offered by IBM Global Business Services, offers access to 1,600 blockchain consultants.

Prices for the IBM Blockchain Platform start at $0.50 per hour and the cost of the network can be shared across all network members.

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