Walmart Inc. is piloting blockchain technology for end-to-end traceability of shrimp sourced in India’s state of Andhra Pradesh and shipped to select Sam’s Club locations in the US.
The pilot project is the first known use of blockchain to track shrimp exports from the Indian farmer to an overseas retailer, reports Livemint, which is India’s largest agricultural export, with the US as its largest market, taking a 46% share of India’s shrimp exports by value in 2018. For this pilot, the company worked closely with Andhra Pradesh-based seafood processor Sandhya Aqua and US-based supplier Stanley Pearlman Enterprises, Inc. to add the shrimp supply chain to the blockchain-enabled IBM Food Trust.
Walmart has been working with IBM to develop software that uses the blockchain to track products through its supply chain, from the farm to the consumer, since 2016. In 2017, Walmart teamed up with Kroger and other food industry companies in a major blockchain collaboration with IBM intended to strengthen consumer confidence in the global food system and explore how explore blockchain technology can be used to make the food supply chain safer. Later that year, Walmart, JD.com, IBM, and Tsinghua University National Engineering Laboratory for E-Commerce Technologies announced they would work together in a Blockchain Food Safety Alliance to enhance food tracking, traceability and safety in China.
Last year, Walmart and Sam’s Club asked suppliers of leafy greens to upload their data to the blockchain by September 2019, in order to trace their products all the way back to the farm using blockchain technology.
Then in June this year, the global retailer announced the Walmart China Blockchain Traceability Platform, built on the VeChainThor Blockchain, which already includes 23 product lines that have been tested and launched on the Platform. The Platform is expected to scale by another 100 product lines by the end of 2019 covering more than 10 product categories including fresh meat product, rice, mushrooms, cooking oil, etc.
“Walmart’s blockchain foray in India will help seafood farmers in the region to strengthen the shrimp supply chain and reinforce customer trust in the product, helping promote India as a preferred source of seafood, while also enhancing food traceability and transparency for consumers in the US,” explained Livemint. The pilot supplements an extensive Sam’s Club food safety program that requires suppliers of seafood products to complete prevention-based certifications like Best Aquaculture Practice (BAP), an internationally recognized standard. To support smallholder farmers in Andhra Pradesh, Walmart Inc. provided funding for the BAP certification training, helping farmers access market opportunities they may not previously have had.
“The possibility of transforming the seafood community with blockchain technology exists and organizations need to do the work to test its potential to optimize supply chain processes,” said John Connelly, president of the National Fisheries Institute in the US. “As one of the most traded commodities in the world, seafood has a complex and wide-reaching supply chain, which makes testing and further developing technology-assisted traceability programs an important step. It is encouraging to see a retail leader like Walmart participate in seafood blockchain testing.”
“This end-to-end blockchain pilot is the first of its kind in India and has the potential to create long-term economic opportunity for the shrimp farming community in Andhra Pradesh, directly benefiting the farmers through new skills training and development," said Chowdary Kunam, managing director of Sandhya Aqua.