Latest IBM partnership looks to improve seafood safety with blockchain

IBM has been working with a number of different industries to help improve food safety with the help of blockchain technology. Today it announced its latest effort, a partnership with Massachusetts firm Raw Seafoods, Inc. to bring this approach to seafood, starting with scallops.

While business blockchain buzz has quieted recently, the supply chain still seems like a solid use case, allowing various stakeholders to trace a shipment from farm, factory or fishing boat to market. The challenge has been getting suppliers to participate, especially when there is such a wide range of technological abilities along the chain.

In this case, IBM is working with a fleet of scallop boats out of New Bedford, Mass., which will be sharing data about their catches, enabling all the stakeholders in the supply chain to know where and when the catch happened. As IBM describes it, “The platform will also track when the boat landed portside, and when each scallop lot was hand graded, selected, packed and shipped to its final destination.” It also will include pictures and video before the boat reaches the dock.

Anyone with permission will be able to access the information on the blockchain by simply clicking a node to see where the scallops were at any given point in its journey from boat to market. Without digitization, tracking any food has been a time-consuming process. With blockchain, tracking happens instantly.

“Traditionally, tracing the origin of a given food product could take days, if it was possible at all, especially for wild-caught sea scallops. By reducing that time frame to a matter of seconds, we’re able to solve three of the core consumer concerns that deter them from enjoying seafood: safety, sustainability and authenticity,” said Rajendra Rao, general manager of IBM Food Trust.

Raw Seafood, Inc. also plans to build an app, connected to the platform, that will allow consumers at a restaurant to scan a QR code on the menu to get detailed information about the scallops before they order.

Last year, IBM announced a similar partnership with Walmart to track leafy green vegetables from farm to shelf.