Applications and Use Cases

Carrefour Milking Blockchain for Maximum Food Supply Chain Visibility


March 08, 2019



There’s a lot of talk about blockchain’s potential to disrupt business models and bring new levels of visibility, security, and efficiency into processes.  The mainstream conversation may have started with Bitcoin and its rise – and fall – in value, which has created a high degree of uncertainty, particularly in consumer markets.

But, the underlying blockchain technology is sound and, while many are still debating where it will have the greatest and fastest impact, many businesses have sidestepped the debate to develop blockchain projects that are now live and producing real, tangible results.

Carrefour clearly believes in blockchain and is looking to increasingly leverage it in its operations.  The French grocer will begin using the distributed ledger technology to track milk across its supply chain this month.  With its Carrefour Quality Line of full-fat milk, the retailer is guaranteeing customers complete traceability of their milk, including QR codes on each product that consumers themselves can scan to view supply chain details for a particular item.  Information includes farm details and GPS coordinates, what the cows were fed, timestamps for collection and packaging all the way to in-store stocking.

Carrefour’s milk initiative follows its use of blockchain to track chicken, tomatoes, eggs, and oranges, as well as its participation in IBM’s Food Trust initiative

Launched in 2016, Food Trust enables faster and more accurate tracking of the food supply chain.  Wal-Mart was one of the first to sign on, but has since been followed by many others, including Carrefour, ShopRite parent Wakefern, Kroger, and many others. 

The Food Trust is built on blockchain technology and creates an immutable, shared database that makes it easier to track and trace products from source to retail location.  IBM built the platform to help increase food safety, supply chain efficiency, food freshness sustainability, and brand trust, while reducing waste and fraud and minimizing the impact of contamination or other issues. 

Rather than a full week, the blockchain-based data-driven platform allows products to be traced in as little as 2.2 seconds, helping pinpoint any potential problems from originating source through receiving retail sites.  IBM says that level of efficiency improvement can result in $700 billion in savings in the US borne with just a one percent reduction in food borne illness. 

As IBM’s Chief Innovation Officer Dr. Ben Amaba noted recently at ITEXPO in Florida, “These are no longer emerging technologies – it is happening today.”

While IBM and others are developing the platforms, Carrefour is quickly becoming a pioneer as it expands its use of blockchain for unprecedented visibility and accountability in its food supply chain, which, ultimately, will benefit everyone from producers to consumers.



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