Walmart Testing Blockchain For Food Safety, Future

Lo and behold, blockchain has entered the grocery aisle — especially if you’re perusing certain aisles at Walmart.

According to Bloomberg, sliced apples and cut broccoli are being used to test a blockchain database technology. Ultimately, if the test goes well, the concept could change how Walmart stores monitor food in terms of safety measures. For the 260 million customers that Walmart serves per week, the new blockchain technology may increase food safety, bring down costs and keep customers that much healthier.

Healthier is the key word for many retailers that work with food. Turns out, when a customer gets sick from eating something from a retailer, days can go by before the retailer can identify the problem product, shipment and where it came from. However, now, with this blockchain technology, retailers like Walmart can receive that data sooner and do something about it quicker.

How soon? Experts say an individual receipt can provide a slew of important data, and through the technology, Walmart may be able to pin down a single pallet or package.

But that’s what blockchain is good at, what it was created for: a way of accounting and tracing data.

“If there’s an issue with an outbreak of E. coli, this gives them an ability to immediately find where it came from. That’s the difference between days and minutes,” said Marshal Cohen, an analyst at researcher NPD Group Inc.

Experts say it boils down to pinning down issues, removing them and letting customers maintain or increase confidence about a brand — in this case, Walmart.

Back in October, Walmart started testing the technology by tracking produce in the U.S. and port products in China. Thousands of packages were tracked this way, developing a database of transactions between growers, distributors and retailers, all recorded securely and robustly.

Ultimately, experts say that, if all goes well, this testing within Walmart on only a few products will likely expand not only to other products under the company but to other retailers looking to achieve the same safety goals.