United States 10th largest retailer, Albertsons became the newest addition in IBM’s Food Trust Network, which is powered by blockchain technology. Food industry is one of the innumerable industries that have embraced blockchain technology and Abertsons has joined the blockchain revolution.
Albertsons Companies is one of the largest retailers in the United States and has a strong presence at both the state and national level, with an impressive network of 2,300 stores across 34 states. According to the company’s press release, it will be using IBM’s platform to track supply chain of romaine lettuce; however, it will branch out to other products later on.
IBM’s blockchain-based food traceability platform went live last year in October after 18 months of testing with an aim to connect growers, processors, distributors and retailers through a permissioned, permanent and shared record of food system data. IBM Food Trust leverages the blockchain technology to create an unprecedented transparency and accountability in the food supply.
How is Blockchain Helping the Food Industry?
Consumers today are not just passive consumers, they demand quality products specified to their needs and value for money. This calls for transparency and accountability which is where blockchain comes in.
Precise product labeling is crucial for any distributor as consumer’s preferences vary. Some people are strictly vegan, some prefer only organic produce and some consume only halal food. Even though such food items can be found neatly labeled and stacked in grocery stores, there is this question of credibility of these labels.
Blockchain on the other hand can ensure the integrity of the marketing claims and existing certifications. This can be coupled with a facility’s audit reports as they will be registered on a blockchain for the verification of claims. Consumers can rest assured that they are getting what they paid for because the company’s labeling is backed by a traceable, immutable blockchain system.
Every year there are a handful of people who suffer from foodborne disease. While some get off easy with stomachaches, others are not so fortunate and end up losing their lives as a price for take-out food. One of the key reasons as to why we still hear about such incidents is the inefficiency that comes with product recall. It simply takes far too long to isolate product recall or contamination issues in the supply chain.
READ MORE: SIDERA Blockchain Technologies Becomes a Part of IBM’s Incubation Program
It takes days even weeks for retailers to track certain food packages from the farm to store but with blockchain the tracing process can be brought down to mere seconds. This will help restaurants and grocery stores in the events of a foodborne illness outbreak because they will have the power to immediately carry out a trace and remove the product from the shelves.
Why is Albertson’s Joining the Network?
Albertsons Companies is planning to pilot the solution in order to help overcome the obstacles that have existed when a trace-back is initiated for a product like romaine. It is possible that Alberston chose the romaine lettuce particularly in light of E-coli breakout in 2018 that was linked to it. Anuj Dhanda, Chief Information Officer of Albertsons Companies, says:
Food safety is a very significant step. In addition, the provenance of the products enabled by blockchain — the ability to track every move from the farm to the customer’s basket — can be very empowering for our customers.
Furthermore, over five million food products now use blockchain technology as part of their delivery process; it could be transformational for Albertsons as well.
Other Companies Onboard IBM’s Food Trust
The leading European grocery chain, Carrefour, is also a member of IBM’s Food Trust Network. The chain joined the network so they could share data with their consumers. Carrefour enables its customer’s access to traceability information directly from IBM’s Food Trust through a simple scan of the QR code via their cellphones.
Swiss-headquartered food retail giant Nestle is also a part of the Food Trust network. The company jumped onboard the project in response to consumer demand for more transparency and trust.
READ MORE: IBM & Columbia University Join Forces to Launch Blockchain Accelerator Programs
The United States retail giant Walmart is also working with IBM to implement blockchain technology as part of their new safety requirements for its suppliers. It will also be utilizing blockchain to implement food traceability. Interestingly enough, Walmart was the first major grocery retailer to join IBM’s Food Trust network and even helped guide the design of the system.
IBM’s Other Blockchain Endeavors
IBM’s presence in the blockchain space isn’t unusual, the company is knee deep in blockchain projects, from financial services to supply chain, to retail and healthcare. It is now recognized as the leading enterprise blockchain provider. A study conducted by Juniper Research in 2017 found that IBM is regarded as having the strongest credentials in the blockchain sector, way ahead of its competitors Microsoft and Accenture.
In addition to food industry solutions, IBM is also providing solutions in other areas:
In order to facilitate global trade IBM has developed TradeLens which is a digital platform that empowers businesses and authorities along the supply chain with a single, secure source of shipping data, enabling more efficient global trade.
Targeting the trade finance sector is the IBM Blockchain for Trade Finance which helps in building new trading partnerships. It also helps in uncovering new pools of liquidity and creating new business models specifically engineered to transform trade finance.
Cross Border Payments
IBM Blockchain World Wire makes global transactions easier and faster. This new financial rail can simultaneously clear and settle cross-border payments in near real-time.
IBM is also exploring identity protection through IBM Blockchain Trusted Identity which is committed to creating a decentralized approach to identity management built on top of open standards. IBM is joining forces with Decentralized Identity Foundation (DIF), World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) and other standards groups to achieve this goal.
IBM’s Food Trust has grown to 80 clients in a rapidly expanding industry so far and it looks like the list is going to keep growing.
READ MORE: Spanish Port Authority Embraces Blockchain, Joins Platform Developed by IBM & Maersk
Germany’s central bank chief is not alarmed by Facebook Libra
- Germany’s central bank chief, Jens Weidmann, believes that Libra must answer all the questions before they go ahead.
- He feels that if Libra delivers on its purposes, then it can be “attractive to consumers.”
The president of Germany’s central bank and European Central Bank policymaker, Jens Weidmann has stated that he is in favor of Facebook’s Libra. As per Reuters, Weidmann said at a G7 meeting:
“There’s no reason to be alarmed but there’s reason to be vigilant.”
Weidmann also said that Facebook should only go ahead with Libra after answering all the questions posed to them. Facebook’s blockchain lead, David Marcus, recently revealed to U.S. senators and congressional representatives, that Libra will go ahead only after it has satisfactorily addressed all regulatory and ethical concerns. Weidmann also believes that if Libra delivers on all its promises, then it can be “attractive to consumers.”
Someone Is Trying to Trademark ‘Samsung Coin.’ It’s Not Samsung
Someone in South Korea appears to be trying to take advantage of Samsung’s blockchain efforts by nabbing the “Samsung Coin” trademark.
According to filings with the Korean Intellectual Property Office (KIPO), an application to register the trademark in both English and Korean was submitted on July 10 by an individual called Kim Nam-jin.
The filing was made under categories related to computer programs, such as “downloadable electronic money computer program,” “electronic money card,” “electronic encryption device,” and “IC card with electronic money function.”
However, when contacted, a Samsung representative told CoinDesk that the tech giant was not behind the application.
“We don’t work this way,” they said.
While the trademark application does not specifically state whether it’s related to blockchain or cryptocurrency, the filing follows CoinDesk’s previous report that Samsung is developing its own blockchain using ethereum tech, and may eventually issue its own cryptocurrency, possibly called “Samsung Coin.”
In a possible clue as to their motivation for the filing, the same individual has previously tried to lodge trademarks relating to cryptocurrency work by other major technology companies.
The KIPO database shows that Kim Nam-jin also filed an application on July 10 seeking to trademark “ThinQ Wallet.”
However, on July 2, LG Electronics, also based in South Korea, filed trademark applications both in South Korea and in the U.S. for “ThinQ Wallet.”
Based on the LG application details, the wallet would provide a variety of mobile services including “software platform for blockchain” and “mobile electronic wallet for cryptocurrency.”
The “Samsung Coin” filing was initially covered by a few news sources that incorrectly indicated Samsung is applying for the trademark.
CoinDesk Korea’s Shinjae Yoo assisted with reporting.
WATCH: A FinTech Lawyer Breaks Down Libra’s Legality
Joel Telpner, Chair of Fintech and Blockchain Practice Group at Sullivan & Worcester LLP, isn’t surprised that Facebook is getting a grilling on Capitol Hill. In fact, he’s pleased.
“These are attacks on Facebook itself that really has nothing to do with crypto has nothing to with Libra it’s just Facebook being bad boys you know [they’re] concerned about [their] privacy policies,” he said.
His point, quite simply, is that any scrutiny of crypto in DC is vital.
“Parts of the hearing so far where they’ve actually been able to get into conversations about Libra and about crypto have been interesting because on that side of it you’ve seen some Senators that have been skeptical,” he said. “But overall it’s kind of it’s been encouraging to hear some of the senators talking about ‘Hey, this is a good thing.’”
Telpner joined CoinDesk editor Pete Rizzo in a wide-ranging conversation about the legality of Libra and, in the end, what Facebook and the Government will have to do to come to terms with the future of crypto.
You can read our complete Libra coverage here and watch our CoinDesk LIVE interviews here.