Walmart’s lettuce suppliers have a year to make their shipments completely traceable with blockchain technology.
The leading U.S. retailer informed its suppliers in a letter Sept. 24 that “all fresh leafy greens suppliers are expected to be able to trace their products back to farm(s) (by production lot) in seconds—not days.” Suppliers to Walmart and Sam’s Club are expected to use blockchain to enable “one-step back traceability” by Jan. 31 of next year, and “end-to-end” traceability by Sept. 30.
Walmart is taking this action in the wake of recent infectious disease outbreaks in the food supply, including a case of E. coli poisoning in romaine lettuce earlier this year. “This resulted in millions of bags and heads of romaine lettuce having to be removed from the marketplace and a loss of consumer confidence in romaine lettuce,” the letter stated.
Blockchain is a technology that automatically creates a record of data transfers. It is encrypted and decentralized, making it resistant to alteration.
Walmart has been experimenting with blockchain for about 18 months, using it to trace shipments of various kinds of fresh food.