Walmart turns to blockchain (and Hyperledger) to take on food traceability and safety

By February 21, 2019 网志, Hyperledger Fabric

In today’s high tech world, the global food supply chain delivers fresh meat, produce and more to us year round. The good news is that this massive supply chain means a consumers have access to a huge diversity of food that is generally safe to eat. Still, occasionally it can make us sick. In 2018 alone, there were 18 outbreaks of foodborne illnesses in the USA, including the E. coli found in romaine lettuce.

For this reason, Walmart has always been interested in enhancing transparency and traceability in the food system. The company has tested many approaches to tackling this challenge before turning its attention to blockchain. Two successful Proof of Concept (POC) projects, one in the U.S. and one in China, solidified Walmart’s commitment to blockchain and Hyperledger Fabric. The company is now leading industry-wide adoption of the technology with a coalition involving some of the most prominent players in the food industry, like Nestle and Unilever.

Walmart’s success working with Hyperledger Fabric and the Hyperledger community to build this large-scale solution and growing industry coalition shows the power of multi-stakeholder, open source approach to blockchain:

  • Since the food traceability system is meant to be used by many parties, including Walmart’s suppliers and even direct competitors, an open and vendor-neutral technology ecosystem was a core requirement from the start.
  • Interoperability with other blockchain systems is also key for a cross-industry solution, making Hyperledger’s collaboration with Ethereum vital for long-term success.
  • The diverse community working together on the development of Hyperledger Fabric meant that solutions were already in the works for many issues the Walmart team identified as they built and scaled their solution.

For details on how Walmart went from a test case with mangoes to tracking more than 25 products from five different suppliers via Hyperledger Fabric, read our case study. It includes the a step-by-step account of Walmart’s rollout, from embracing the general idea of blockchain to selecting a core technology to planning the POC projects and taking the system global with partners. It also featured tips from Frank Yiannas, former Vice President of Food Safety at Walmart, on rolling out an enterprise blockchain project.