Walmart China has introduced the first batch of 23 product lines that have been tested and launched on its blockchain traceability platform.
The world’s largest retailer said that it expects to scale the coverage by another 100 product lines by the end of the year to include more than 10 product categories including fresh meat product, rice, mushrooms, cooking oil, etc.
“The system is expected to see traceable fresh meat account for 50% of the total sales of packaged fresh meat, traceable vegetables will account for 40% of the total sales of packaged vegetables, traceable seafood will account for 12.5% of the total sales of seafood by the end of 2020,” it said in a news release.
According to Walmart and its partners, “by scanning the desired products, customers can acquire detailed information, including the source of the scanned products and geographic location received by Walmart, logistics process, product inspection report, and many more data points.”
“Data collection and data availability are to be continually added to the scale of the platform and its use of blockchain technology,” it added.
Built on the VeChainThor Blockchain, the Walmart China Blockchain Traceability Platform was launched at the 2019 China Products Safety Publicity Week Traceability System Construction Seminar in Beijing on June 25.
Its partners include China Chain-Store & Franchise Association (CCFA), PwC, Inner Mongolia Kerchin Co. Ltd. and VeChain.
Kevin Feng, Chief Operating Officer of VeChain, said in a media statement that the launch of the platform of is of great significance to the commercial application of blockchain technology.
“VeChain will work with Walmart China to actively take heed of the call of the government, by utilizing technology to promote the traceability of fresh food, and to provide innovative solutions for the traceability platform through digital technology, so as to generate more transparent and reassuring consumption experience,” he said.
Food safety is a key health issue around the world. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that 600 million fall ill after eating contaminated food and 420,000 die every year.
“Food safety, nutrition and food security are inextricably linked. Unsafe food creates a vicious cycle of disease and malnutrition, particularly affecting infants, young children, elderly and the sick,” it said in a report.
“In the face of food safety, how to build consumer trust is a problem that PwC, our clients and partners have been trying to solve,” said Elton Yeung, Strategy and Innovation Leader, PwC Mainland China and Hong Kong.
“We believe that Walmart’s Blockchain Traceability System will be an excellent example of blockchain technology applied in the retail industry, helping to improve food safety and quality management, and providing a strong guarantee for building consumer trust,” he said.
VeChain said that in China, domestic customers are proposing higher demands on food safety, digitalization of food traceability will help suppliers to increase their brand value and win their consumers’ trust.
The partners expect the use of the platform to continue to grow in scope, accounted scales, and geographic implementation.
Walmart entered the Chinese market and opened its first hypermarket and Sam’s Club in Shenzhen in 1996, according to its website.
It currently operates in the country three business formats — Walmart hypermarkets, Sam’s Club, and Walmart supermarkets — and claims to be a proponent of local sourcing, saying that over 95% of the merchandise in its China stores is sourced locally.
In December 2018, it introduced what it calls the “next generation” store in Chengdu, which is 50% smaller than regular hypermarkets but with a leasing area that is about 4,000 square meters “to accommodate changing customer preferences.”