Carrefour rolls out first food blockchain in Europe


Carrefour has introduced what the French retailer says is ‘Europe’s first food blockchain’, with the technology set to bolster the security of its global supply chains. Carrefour will introduce the blockchain technology to eight of its product lines by the end of 2018. It currently uses the technology to trace the production of free-range chicken in the Auvergne region in central France which enables consumers to see exactly where a product on the supermarket shelf came from, simply by scanning the product with a smartphone. Carrefour will initially use blockchain across its own-branded products in France, Spain and Brazil, before expanding to other countries by 2022.

The move is part of the Carrefour’s five-year overhaul to tackle competition from local rivals, German discounters and Amazon, which will see the company increase investment in digital six-fold to €2.8bn over five years. In an interview earlier this year, Alexandre Bompard, Carefour’s CEO, said that “the combination of healthy, good quality and traceable food will be one of the major issues of the century”, hinting at stronger commitment to improve traceability in its food supply chain.

Carrefour will rely on blockchain technology developed by IBM. The French retailer worked with IBM to develop a set of interfaces to provide machine-to-machine collection of data throughout its supply chain that can be appended to the blockchain. In addition to direct connectivity, Carrefour also allows suppliers to upload data through secure file transfer to append data to the blockchain. The third option is a portal which allows Carrefour’s suppliers to upload Excel spreadsheets.

The challenge for Carrefour will be to get as many parties as possible in its supply chain to participate in the blockchain. If a link in the chain does not participate, the goal of end-to-end traceability fails. It is for this reason that Carrefour is taking a product-specific approach and started implementation with its own-branded products. Convincing farmers who exist at different levels of technological sophistication to embrace blockchain will probably be the biggest hurdle not only for Carrefour but for all other food retailers seeking to adopt blockchain to transform their supply chains.

It may well be the case that the big players will make blockchain deployment a requirement for suppliers. Walmart, for instance, recently mandated some of its suppliers to join its food-tracking blockchain by January 2019 and will also mandate that farmers, logistics firms and business partners of these suppliers join its blockchain by September 2019. If retailers take this approach and urge suppliers to conform to traceability in their networks, we are likely to see more private blockchain applications in the food supply chain.

If this brief has been of interest you might also like to download Ti’s ‘Why is Blockchain a game changer for supply chain management?’ Report. The report aims to serve supply chain executives who have little knowledge of blockchain and its use cases for the logistics industry and want to make informed decision on whether investing in the technology would bring value to their business.

Source: Transport Intelligence, October 18th, 2018

Author: Violeta Keckarovska

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