Nestlé is already a part of IBM’s own supply chain oriented blockchain project, Food Trust. The latest announcement is not clear if the Swiss food conglomerate will still be a part of it. Nestlé’s, in the meantime, is working with a decentralized ledger technology company, OpenSC, to develop its own blockchain.
The blockchain project will be initially a six month long pilot, where the different aspects of the technology will be tested to see “feasibility, viability and scalability of the system,”. This will also include how efficiently the whole system will verify data. According to Nestlé, this pilot may have front end interfaces such as a QR code, mobile app and even a web portal. Since initially it will be a pilot, the platform may not even have these.
According to a spokesperson for Nestlé, “For us, it is key that the access to the information is as seamless and easy as possible in order to have participation and traction with stakeholders and consumers.” The technology’s ability to provide information to consumers in a transparent and independently verifiable method is the key towards food safety and consumer confidence.
Blockchain is increasingly seen by Nestlé as a solution towards their commitment to bring transparency of information to their consumers so that they can make better informed decisions. Nestlé Executive Vice President, Magdi Batato, had also said in the official statement, “We want our consumers to make an informed decision on their choice of products – to choose products produced responsibly. Open blockchain technology might allow us to share reliable information with consumers in an accessible way”.
The blockchain pilot will initially be used to track milk from New Zealand farms, all the way to the Middle East. If successful, it might also include tracking of palm oil production from the Americas.
With the palm oil supply chain in the America, we can experiment the system at local level. Furthermore, the product itself, being liquid, it adds more complexity to the traceability.
The blockchain project will record each step of the supply chain, even including satellite imagery.
With the open platform, any update or change made in the system can be seen by all users as it retains the original data, which cannot be deleted.
With recent consumer confidence being hit hard for big food companies, Nestlé’s blockchain initiative comes as others such as Bumble Beeand Carrefouralso are running blockchain for food traceability.
“This open blockchain technology will allow anyone, anywhere in the world to assess our responsible sourcing facts and figures,” said Benjamin Ware, Global Head of Responsible Sourcing for Nestlé.