Walmart is flexing its DLT muscles after announcing it wants fresh produce suppliers to utilize a farm-to-store tracking system based on blockchain technology.
The company has given 100 of its suppliers fair warning that fresh produce will need to be tracked using the system developed by IBM during the next year.
Both Walmart and IBM have been at the forefront of DLT since its conception and both companies are eager to promote the use of the new technology in sectors including business and commerce. Walmart has become a primary mover in the industry in pushing blockchain forward with numerous patents pending.
Walmart filed for two more blockchain technology patents in April, one for secure payments and another for digital shopping systems. In March, it filed for a “Smart Package” blockchain patent allowing tracking of contents and environmental conditions from point of origin to delivery. That patent states that Walmart technology will record the “key addresses” along the chain and will be used with robotic delivery methods like autonomous vehicles and drones.
The multinational’s latest patent is for a smart device that, when paired with a computing system, would receive a transaction request which, once accepted, transmits a configuration instruction for the appliance to be operated by the user via one or more nodes in the network needed for validation. The patent application details how the technology could be utilized in creating an entire smart home system, including control over energy and healthcare environments.
Of the latest move to track green produce from farm to supermarket shelf, vice president of food safety Frank Yiannas cited a conventional trial using mangoes as the shipment model, commenting, “It took them nearly seven days, as the methods of tracking today are antiquated — sometimes done with pencil and paper.” Walmart maintains that with blockchain technology, that same process will take just 2.2 seconds.
The US Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) consulted with Walmart over the question of product traceability due to an increase of foodborne illnesses, such as an E.coli outbreak that occurred this year affecting 200 people who needed to be hospitalized.
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