Walmart’s Foray Into Blockchain, How Is the Technology Used?
By Shiraz Jagati, Analysis, Cointelegraph
Walmart is currently making use of blockchain technology to create a food traceability system based on the Linux Foundation’s Hyperledger Fabric. Along with IBM, the retail giant has already tested two proof-of-concept projects to examine its envisioned system.
The first project deals actively with tracing the origins of the mangoes being sold across Walmart’s stores in the United States, while the other seeks to trace the pork meat being sold via the company’s different Chinese outlets. From an efficiency perspective, the research team at Walmart claims that by making use of this new system, the time needed to trace the firm’s provenance has dropped from seven days to just 2.2 seconds.
So, why all that effort? Well, around a decade back, the world bore witness to one of the world’s most hazardous food safety scandals, which saw massive quantities of milk and infant formula (across China) adulterated with melamine, a white solid that is derived from cyanamide and has fire retardant properties.
As a result of drinking this contaminated milk, over 300,000 people were severely affected both physically and mentally — with six babies perishing from kidney stones and internal organ damage (with another 54,000 children being hospitalized with associated symptoms).
The point of highlighting this information is that any time an outbreak of this magnitude occurs, it usually takes authorities days (or even weeks) to find the source of the problem. However, enhanced traceability — that can be obtained through the use of blockchain-based ledgers — can save a lot of lives by allowing health care professionals to act more swiftly and protect the livelihoods of farmers by discarding the limited produce that may have come from affected pieces of farmland.
Now, the company claims that because of Walmart’s Hyperledger Fabric-powered blockchain system, the firm has the ability to trace the origins of over 25 products from five different suppliers. In this regard, the firm has even announced that it will soon be requiring all of its vegetable suppliers to adopt this new system so as to enhance operational transparency as well as internal accountability. Additionally, Karl Bedwell, a senior director at Walmart Technology, pointed out:
“Creating a (traceability) system for the entire food supply ecosystem has been a challenge for years, and no one had figured it out. We thought that blockchain technology might be a good fit for this problem, because of its focus on trust, immutability, and transparency.”
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