Carrefour rolls out IBM Food Trust blockchain in UAE

Supermarket chain Carrefour is making more products available secured by IBM Food Trust, a blockchain-driven traceability platform, with a new rollout centred on its United Arab Emirates operations.

Carrefour was one of the companies involved in building the IBM Food Trust platform – which aims to implement a global food traceability standard across all of the links in the chain, from producers through to sales channels – when development for the project kicked off in 2018.

In 2019, Carrefour and Nestlé said they would start using IBM’s platform to track and trace infant formula.

Now, the supermarket says it will deploy it in 21 stock keeping units (SKUs) in the UAE, including chicken and hydroponic-grown microgreens, as a first stage before rolling it out across all its global markets, helping to improve food traceability.

Blockchain is a technology for the digital storage and transmission of secure and tamper-proof information. It serves as a database or registry, that contains an indelible history of all exchanges between its users – producers, processors and distributors – from its creation.

Using a smartphone, purchasers of the products can scan a QR code and learn about the origins and handling of the product – for example whether a chicken is organic and antibiotic-free – as well as other useful information such as halal and hygiene certifications, use-by dates and storage advice.

Carrefour has previously integrated blockchain independently in its supply chain, focusing on its Carrefour Quality lines. In early 2018, it started using blockchain for chickens from the Auvergne region of France, Cauralina tomato, farm-raised eggs from Loué, rocamadour AOC cheese, Gillot fresh milk, Norwegian salmon and Christmas chicken.

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By 2022, the objective is to apply blockchain technology to all its premium Filière Qualité Carrefour (FQC) food products range, according to the company.

Research conducted by the IBM Institute for Business Value (IBV) has shown that 73 per cent of survey respondents said traceability of products is important to them.

Among those who said it was very important, 71 per cent of respondents indicated they are willing to pay a premium for brands that provide it.

The launch of the blockchain scheme in UAE was announced by Carrefour in partnership with Majid Al Futtaim, a retail and leisure group operating in the Middle East, Africa and Asia and the local franchisee for the supermarket chain.

“Trust in the food supply is becoming increasingly important worldwide, a trend accelerated by changing consumer demands and the subsequent health and wellbeing concerns arising from the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Hani Weiss, Majid Al Futtaim Retail’s CEO.

“It is therefore imperative for us to invest in ensuring quality throughout the value chain while simultaneously working to build robust customer trust and loyalty.”

A 2019 report by Juniper Research says widespread adoption of blockchain to accurately track food across the supply chain could save the food industry a whopping $31bn, mainly from avoiding frauds such as mislabelling, dilution or substitution, as well as from slashing the cost of complying with regulations by a third.

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