Aussie food companies plate up blockchain

Katie McDonaldMarch 19, 2019
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Two South Australian food organisations have teamed up in an Australia-first, trialling IBM’s blockchain platform that tracks food supply.

Thomas Foods International (TFI), one of Australia’s largest family-owned meat processors, and independent grocery retailer Drakes Supermarket say they’re the first in Australia to pilot the IBM Food Trust.

IBM’s platform tracks the journey of a food product from farm to plate and updates records in real-time, enabling greater traceability, transparency and efficiency between participating retailers, suppliers and growers.

“We see blockchain as a potentially game-changing technology for food traceability,” said IBM  Australia and New Zealand head of blockchain Rupert Colchester.

“Transparency and traceability are the key to many industries now, and none more so than in the critical issues of food safety and provenance.”

By using the IBM platform, all supply chain participants can operate based on a shared view of food ecosystem data. This is particularly beneficial when it comes to recalls, with customers able to quickly identify product at risk, as well as proving provenance or the history of an individual cut of meat.

TFI and Drakes Supermarket have been trialling the IBM Food Trust for the past three months, tracking steak, as a means to deliver improvements in day-to-day operational efficiencies.

TFI global retail sales manager Simon Tamke said by maintaining the individual data relating to each product, instead of moving to data about grouped products, the two businesses had been able to achieve a greater understanding of how each food item was moving through the supply chain.

“This added level of transparency and verifiability will reinforce customers’ and consumers’ confidence in the provenance of our product and is made possible by blockchain technology,” he said.

“We are pleased with the steady progress of our blockchain collaboration with IBM, while we continue to receive very positive feedback from the industry and customers.”

By removing data silos, the two organisations had been able to upload data to the platform to establish a single, shared record of the steak as it moved through the supply chain.

“The greater level of granularity since adopting IBM Food Trust has enabled the traceability of a food package across the supply chain, reducing the time required to identify the origin of a product from days to just seconds,” said Drakes Supermarket fresh foods general manager Tim Cartwright.

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