Carrefour to use blockchain technology to trace food through supply chain
Europe’s largest retailer, Carrefour, has announced that it will use blockchain technology to track and trace produce from farms to stores.
Developed by the US-based firm, IBM, the technology will track items such as free-range chickens, eggs, cheese, milk, oranges, tomatoes, salmon and ground beef steak.
The blockchain-based cloud network, known as IBM Food Trust, aims to enable greater traceability, transparency and efficiency in the food industry.
The French retailer says that the launch of the technology is an “important milestone” in its 2022 transformation strategy.
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The technology will allow producers, processors, distributors and other players in the food supply chain to provide traceability information about produce.
This information could include dates, places, farm buildings, distribution channels and potential treatments which customers can access using QR codes on product labels.
Using this blockchain platform, food can be quickly traced back to its origins in minutes rather than days or weeks.
“Become the leader of the food transition for everyone is the aim that Alexandre Bompard has set for the Carrefour group,” said Laurent Vallée, Carrefour's general secretary and head of quality and food safety.
“Making use of blockchain technology is an exemplary step in meeting this aim.
“This is a first in Europe and will provide consumers with guaranteed complete transparency as far as the traceability of our products is concerned.”
With more than 12,000 stores in 33 countries, Carrefour hopes to use the solution to enhance consumer confidence in Carrefour’s brands.
As part of its Act for Food programme, the retailer plans to expand the technology to all its brands worldwide by 2022.
"The currency of trust today is transparency and achieving it in the area of food safety happens when responsibility is shared," added Bridget van Kralingen, senior vice president, IBM Global Industries, Clients, Platforms and Blockchain.
"That collaborative approach is how the members of IBM Food Trust have shown blockchain can strengthen transparency and drive meaningful enhancements to food traceability.
"Ultimately that provides business benefits for participants and a better and safer product for consumers.
Pandora and IBM digitise jewellery supply chain
Pandora has overhauled its global supply chain in partnership with IBM amid an ecommerce sales boom for its hand-finished jewellery.
The company found international success offering customisable charm bracelets and other personalised jewellery though its chain of bricks and mortar retail destinations. But in 2020, as the COVID-19 outbreak forced physical stores to close, Pandora strengthened its omnichannel operations and doubled online sales.
A focus on customer experience included deploying IBM’s Sterling Order Management, increasing supply chain resiliency and safeguarding against disruption across the global value chain.
Pandora leverages IBM Sterling Order Management as the backbone it its omnichannel fulfilment, with Salesforce Commerce Cloud powering its ecommerce. Greater automation across its channels has boosted the jeweller’s sustainability credentials, IBM said, streamlining processes for more efficient delivery. It has also given in-store staff and virtual customer service representatives superior end-to-end visibility to better meet consumer needs.
Jim Cruickshank, VP of Digital Development & Retail Technology, Pandora, said the digital transformation journey has brought “digital and store technology closer together and closer to the customer”, highlighting how important the customer journey remains, even during unprecedented disruption.
"Our mission is about creating a personal experience and we've instituted massive platform changes with IBM Sterling and Salesforce to enable new digital-first capabilities that are much more individualised, localised and connected across channels and markets,” he added.
Pandora’s pivot to digital
The pandemic forced the doors closed at most of Pandora’s 2,700 retail locations. To remain competitive, it pivoted to online retail. Virtual queuing for stores and virtual product trials via augmented reality (AR) technology went someway to emulating the in-store experience and retail theatre that is the brand’s hallmark. Meanwhile digital investments in supply chain efficiency was central to delivering on consumer demand.
“Consumer behaviour has significantly shifted and will continue to evolve with businesses needing to quickly adapt to new preferences and needs,” said Kareem Yusuf, General Manager, AI Applications and Blockchain, IBM. “To address this shift, leading retailers like Pandora rely on innovation to increase their business agility by enabling and scaling sustainable supply chain operations using AI and cloud.”
Yusuf said Pandora’s success was indicative of how to remain competitive by “finding new ways to create differentiated customer experiences that protect their enterprises from disruptions to help mitigate risk and accelerate growth”.