The Walmart China Blockchain Traceability Platform, built on the VeChainThor blockchain, was announced at the 2019 China Products Safety Publicity Week in Beijing. This is a development of Walmart China, China Chain-Store & Franchise Association (CCFA), PwC, Inner Mongolia Kerchin Company and VeChain.
Shi Jiaqi, Chief Corporate Affairs Officer of Walmart China, stated: “Walmart has always worked to provide reliable products of quality and convenient services to customers, which is our core value proposition. With this target in mind, Walmart has continuously invested in the whole supply chain, from source procurement and commodity strategy, supply chain construction, to store and e-commerce platform operation management.
“We use digital methods to improve efficiency and transparency, providing products and services of quality to customers and making life better for busy families in China.”
The scope of the Walmart China Blockchain Traceability Platform
The announcement of the Walmart China Blockchain Traceability Platform (the Platform) came with the introduction of the first batch of 23 product lines that have been tested and launched on the Platform. The Platform is expected to scale by another 100 product lines by the end of 2019 covering more than 10 product categories including:
- fresh meat product
- cooking oil
- and more.
The stated expectation is that Walmart China’s traceability system will see, by the end of 2020, traceable:
- fresh meat account for 50% of the total sales of packaged fresh meat
- vegetables account for 40% of the total sales of packaged vegetables
- seafood will account for 12.5% of the total sales of seafood.
VeChain’s blockchain technology is enabling Walmart China to:
- implement a traceability strategy for products
- pioneer the large-scale application of blockchain (for traceability).
By scanning desired products, customers can acquire detailed information, including:
- the source of the scanned products and the geographic location when received by Walmart
- the logistics process
- a product inspection report
- additional data points.
Data collection and data availability will be added as the platform scales. The intention is to increase the use of blockchain technology.
Elton Yeung, Strategy and Innovation Leader, PwC Mainland China and Hong Kong, pointed out: “PwC’s mission is ‘building trust and solving important problems’, which is the top priority of PwC in providing professional services and making business decisions. 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.
“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.”
VeChainThor and Walmart
Consumers want to trust Walmart as a retailer. Improving food safety and quality management matters. In this context, VeChain’s blockchain technology enables Walmart to take a lead in traceability management among retail peers.
Walmart China has pioneered the large-scale application of traceability platform based on the VeChainThor Blockchain which gives priority to products of high-concern and high-risk. Domestic customers in China are seeking ever higher food safety. As such, digitalisation of food traceability will help suppliers to increase brand value by winning and maintaining consumers trust. As the Platform expands, more categories of food will become traceable.
VeChainThorThrough the technical support of PwC and VeChain, Walmart China built the Platform, which is proprietary, on the VeChainThor blockchain. Participants in the supply chain will:
- share their ‘portion’ of data
- promote the visibility and management efficiency of the whole chain
- utilise the decentralised and tamper-proof nature of blockchain
- in the future, see adoption of multilateral cooperation along with synchronisation of data from local governments’ platforms and suppliers’ own platforms.
Kevin Feng, Chief Operating Officer of VeChain commented on the collaboration, said: “As the world-leading enterprise-public blockchain platform, VeChain aims to empower enterprises in the large-scale digitization process by providing safe and mature blockchain deployment solutions and promote the wide application of blockchain technology. We achieve this while putting forward new insights for the development of the businesses’ ecosystems.
“The launch of the Blockchain Traceability Platform by Walmart China, the world-class retail giant, 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.”
Enterprise Times: what does this mean
As part of the signing ceremony, the attendees discussed how to:
- share responsibilities
- use technological innovations to guarantee the quality and safety of products and edible agricultural produce
- boost consumer confidence and satisfaction
- contribute to the upgrading of service consumption.
This has significance. The VeChainThor-based Walmart China Blockchain Traceability Platform is not primarily about technology. It is about food security – that the food that Chinese citizens eat is safe. But, to ensure that safety, some form of ‘mutual system is a necessity – which is where blockchain slots in. It is when blockchain adds what would otherwise be difficult to deliver that it (blockchain technology) acquires value – as is true for IBM’s Food Trust and other similar initiatives.