Walmart, JD.com, IBM, and Tsinghua University National Engineering Laboratory for E-Commerce Technologies announced on December 14 that they will work together in a blockchain food safety alliance that will kick off with a collaboration designed to enhance food tracking, traceability, and safety in China, to achieve greater transparency across the food supply chain.
The four companies will work together to create a standards-based method of collecting data about the origin, safety, and authenticity of the food, using blockchain technology to provide real-time traceability throughout the supply chain.
Food safety is greatly important for JD.com who plans to open 7Fresh in Beijing by end of this year, as a counterpart to Alibaba’s Hema store. It is rumored that 75% of the layout will be fresh produce (in Chinese), and it will combine restaurant and supermarkets just like Alibaba’s Hema.
Walmart, JD, IBM and Tsinghua University will work with food supply chain providers and regulators to develop the standards, solutions, and partnerships to enable a broad-based food safety ecosystem in China. IBM will provide its IBM Blockchain Platform and expertise, while Tsinghua University will act as a technical advisor sharing its expertise in the key technologies and the China food safety ecosystem. The two will collaborate with Walmart and JD to develop, optimize and roll out the technology to suppliers and retailers that join the alliance.
As JD acquired Yihaodian in 2016 through a strategic alliance with Walmart, Walmart grabs a 5% equity stake in JD.com. In China, Walmart and JD have been able to leverage JD’s expertise in the application of artificial intelligence (AI), blockchain, big data and other new technologies to protect consumers. Recent testing by Walmart showed that applying blockchain reduced the time it took to trace a package of mangoes from the farm to the store from days or weeks to two seconds.