IBM Food Trust partners with Raw Seafoods to fight blockchain traceability

Dive brief:

  • IBM Food Trust on Thursday announced a partnership with Raw Seafoods to bring its blockchain platform to the seafood industry, starting with wild scallops, according to a press release emailed to Supply Chain Dive. . The aim of the partnership is to improve visibility on sourcing, safety and sustainability in the supply chain.
  • “Frankly, this is something that we have been fighting against for many years, [maintaining] the credibility of the supply chain and the seafood industry, “Daniel McQuade, vice president of marketing at Raw Seafoods, told Supply Chain Dive in an interview.
  • Tracing the origin of wild scallops can take days, Rajendra Rao, managing director of IBM Food Trust, said in a statement. Using blockchain, this process only takes seconds and resolves “three of the top consumer concerns that keep them from enjoying seafood: safety, sustainability, and authenticity.”

Dive overview:

The USDA estimates that 80 to 90% of Americans do not get enough seafood in their diet. At a time when consumers are looking for environmentally sustainable alternatives to beef and poultry, McQuade says the seafood industry has an opportunity to use technology to reverse this trend.

Seafood producers often suffer from a lack of visibility of where their catch is going after reaching port, McQuade said. By giving producers, distributors, vendors and customers access to the same dataset through blockchain, he said it would improve the seafood industry’s business operations and increase consumer demand by building trust.

McQuade said that lack of confidence among U.S. consumers often stems from fears that the products may not be genuine, have been fraudulently substituted for a cheaper variety, or for food safety reasons.

Blockchain has worked particularly well for tracking agricultural products like lettuce or beef, McQuade said. Because they are located on farms, they can be produced in regular cycles. Seafood can be more difficult because the location and size of a catch can vary widely from day to day.

Using IBM’s platform, McQuade said a fisherman can run software on his vessel’s computer. In real time, “he can upload data to the IBM Food Trust platform, indicating the name of the place, the name of the catch and the size of the scallops, the number of the bag, the number of kilos in the bag “.

This is especially important because according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association, 80% of seafood entering the United States is imported from elsewhere.

“Whether it’s salmon from Norway or shrimp from India or tuna from the Philippines, it goes through degrees of separation before you put it in your mouth and there may be four or five, six, seven degrees of separation.” , McQuade said. “This is where the problem lies. Do we trust each of these transactions that go through the supply chain? “

As IBM Food Trust expands the number of its 170 member companies, Suzanne Livingston, Director of Supply, told Supply Chain Dive that one of the most common challenges encountered when bringing new members online is the inherent lack of traceability or even data collection in food manufacturing operations.

“When you walk into a food business here in the United States and they get goods, they can mix these products and they can process these products and remix and repackage them,” she said, they might not. not really keep track of all of their entries.

Livingston said the increasing availability of IoT sensors, RFID tags and tracking software has helped improve this and generate usable data that can be automatically fed into IBM’s system.

“So the parties that are part of [IBM Food Trust] can see end to end, including down to the consumer, who can scan the final product they have in the restaurant or store, see where it comes from and the relevant information. This is really what blockchain brings together in the supply chain space. “

Correction: A previous version of this story misspelled Suzanne Livingston’s last name.


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Tanya S. Norvell