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Alibaba Advances Blockchain Food Fraud Platform to Pilot Phase

Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba is trialling a blockchain platform for supply chain tracking in bid to prevent food fraud.

The new pilot program will use the blockchain-based Food Trust Framework to track international shipments to China from Australian healthcare supply firm Blackmores and New Zealand dairy product maker Fonterra via Alibaba’s T-Mall e-commerce arm, according to a ZDNet report Friday.

The news follows the platform’s year-long technological development since Alibaba Australia first announced a partnership with PwC and Blackmores in March 2017 to develop the system to counter the spread of counterfeit products.

Touting supply chain transparency as a primary benefit of the framework, Alibaba said the pilot – if successful – could lead to wider adoption across the supply chains for its global markets.

The exploration marks Alibaba’s latest move to harness blockchain’s potential in the fight against food fraud – criminal activity that the company estimates costs the global food industry $40 billion each year, the report said.

Alibaba’s T-Mall platform has already started to adopt blockchain technology in partnership with logistics firm Cainiao in its cross-border supply chains.

As previously reported by CoinDesk, the partnership records a variety of data about goods in transport on a tamper-proof blockchain network including country of origin, shipping port and method, arrival port and customs report details.

Alibaba image via Shutterstock

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Walmart, JD.com Back Blockchain Food Tracking Effort in China

Retail giants Walmart and JD.com are among several companies backing a new blockchain effort in China focused on food safety and traceability.

Along with Tsinghua University National Engineering Laboratory for E-Commerce Technologies and IBM, the four parties have created the Blockchain Food Safety Alliance, which will seek to connect businesses along the food supply chain within the world’s most populous country.

The idea, according to statements, is to develop “a standards-based method of collecting data about the origin, safety and authenticity of food” among the parties involved, with blockchain serving as a technological basis for recording that information in real time.

For Walmart, the effort represents an expansion of its previous work in the food supply chain area. In October 2016, the retailer unveiled that it was working with Tsinghua and IBM in an effort to track pork products, a process that the company called “very encouraging” during a presentation earlier this year.

“As a global advocate for enhanced food safety, Walmart looks forward to deepening our work with IBM, Tsinghua University, JD and others throughout the food supply chain. Through collaboration, standardization, and adoption of new and innovative technologies, we can effectively improve traceability and transparency and help ensure the global food system remains safe for all,” Frank Yiannas, vice president of food safety and health for Walmart, said of the new group.

The inclusion of JD.com – a business-to-consumer e-commerce platform that claimed more than 200 million users as of September – is a notable one, given its overall footprint in China.

And reports that JD.com intends to import billions of dollars worth of food over the next several years would, in theory, create a large inventory of products to track.

“Throughout the world, and particularly in China, consumers increasingly want to know how their food is sourced, and JD is dedicated to using technology to promote complete transparency,” Yongli Yu, president of JD’s supply chain research unit, said in a statement.

Image Credit: testing / Shutterstock.com

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