Walmart and Its Subsidiaries to Use Blockchain to Track Food Supply Chain

cageymaru

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Walmart and Sam's Club will work with IBM to start using blockchain to track suppliers of fresh, leafy green crops in real-time as the products are transported from the farm to the store. This is being done to better combat food safety incidents such as outbreaks of Salmonella or E. coli. Blockchain adds end-to-end traceability of the produce from farm to table.
Since the tracking and crop information is digitized as data, the source of an outbreak can be traced in a couple of seconds. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) previously had to wait at least a week for a single shipment of product to be traced back to the source of origin as everything was done with pen and paper ledgers. To put how much time can be saved into context, Walmart stocks over 70,000 different food products in a single grocery store.

"Enhanced ability to trace a contaminated food back to its source will help government agencies and companies to identify the source of a foodborne disease outbreak, coordinate more effective recalls of foods thought to be contaminated, and learn where past problems began. We think these steps will strengthen future prevention efforts and better protect the public's health from the threat of foodborne illness." - Robert Tauxe, MD, director of CDC’s Division of Foodborne, Waterborne, and Environmental Diseases
 

oROEchimaru

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i cant eat walmart food though ...
a. meat... can you just stop pumping food coloring in it
b. your prices for meat are higher than local chains but the meat also looks ggross
c. your veggies are old, they are also more expensive

i have no clue why walmart grocery is popular when you pay more than other local grocers, the food is older/rotten and its of lower quality.
 

emphy

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Can someone ELI5 why a blockchain is supposed to be better (apart from marketing reasons) as opposed to a conventional digital database?
 

kirbyrj

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i cant eat walmart food though ...
a. meat... can you just stop pumping food coloring in it
b. your prices for meat are higher than local chains but the meat also looks ggross
c. your veggies are old, they are also more expensive

i have no clue why walmart grocery is popular when you pay more than other local grocers, the food is older/rotten and its of lower quality.

Because you're already there for other low priced Chinese garbage, so you end up picking up groceries also?

In all seriousness, as a former Walmart employee, I'm fairly confident Sam Walton would roll over in his grave at what his store has become.
 

toast0

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Permanent record so the feds know exactly where to look to find and fine the companies selling us bad food.

That doesn't need to be a block chain though, it could be a git repo, or a line printer in FDA's office.
 

Trepidati0n

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That doesn't need to be a block chain though, it could be a git repo, or a line printer in FDA's office.

The advantage of the chain isn't it doesn't need a host to control it and it can be given to many destinations thus making shenanigans much harder to pull off. Furthermore...as stated, it is FASTER if everything gets put on a chain since we can go back to the source in snap. For the FDA this is critical in an outbreak to prevent it from being worse. But if you like taking a few extra days and people get potentially fatally sick from a salad...then keep on keeping on.
 

Ferox

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If they're worried about food borne illness they should look at their own distribution first. A friend of mine was a trailer mechanic at one of the distribution centers. During the summer time a lot of their drivers don't turn the refer unit on until they are backing in to receive a load. Those trailers get up over 100 degrees inside without the refer on so by the time the trailer is brought down to temp the frozen foods have had a chance to thaw out and refreeze on the way to the store. I avoid walmart like the plague for many reasons but this is a big one.
 

Eickst

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I always thought that prevention was much more important than detection and response. Kind of like cyber security, or home security, you know, I'd rather prevent the breach or prevent the home burglary instead of just knowing about it afterwards.

If your supply chain is so effed that you need an instant way to track outbreaks maybe clean up your supply chain, test it before it gets distributed, you know?
 

darckhart

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i have no clue why walmart grocery is popular when you pay more than other local grocers, the food is older/rotten and its of lower quality.

Food deserts. It is expensive to have a grocery store in the middle of nowhere. An "average" sized Kroger takes $20M to build and then add operational costs which increase absurdly when a large fresh produce section gets put in. Walmart is the only national outlet willing to do this for these locations, so sometimes it's the only choice. If there's other choices... well.....

The advantage of the chain isn't it doesn't need a host to control it and it can be given to many destinations thus making shenanigans much harder to pull off. Furthermore...as stated, it is FASTER if everything gets put on a chain since we can go back to the source in snap.

I don't necessarily believe it's faster than a well managed big-data type database. Google seems to do it rather well.... all transactions go in. query reveals results right quick.

I always thought that prevention was much more important than detection and response. Kind of like cyber security, or home security, you know, I'd rather prevent the breach or prevent the home burglary instead of just knowing about it afterwards. If your supply chain is so effed that you need an instant way to track outbreaks maybe clean up your supply chain, test it before it gets distributed, you know?

lol you know USA agencies are never about prevention: there's no money to be made by the contractors that way.... Take FEMA for example: its whole purpose is to rebuild following natural disasters. Why don't we take that budget and use it to build infrastructure that might mitigate damage and reduce rebuild costs? Never! It's ridiculous. (google hoboken new jersey after Sandy and see what fema money is allowed to do and what it isn't)
 

Trepidati0n

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I don't necessarily believe it's faster than a well managed big-data type database. Google seems to do it rather well.... all transactions go in. query reveals results right quick.

You do realize Walmart has some of the best and brightest the world when it comes to database and logistics...right? You don't get that big (just like amazon) from price squeezing alone. If they are going block chain and they indicated the reason why...i'm pretty sure you need to have a better argument than "I don't believe". But a centralized database tracking every detail about every single produce/food movement in the US (and worldwide)....how cute....well, maybe they can do it if the NSA does the job. =P
 

nutzo

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i cant eat walmart food though ...
a. meat... can you just stop pumping food coloring in it
b. your prices for meat are higher than local chains but the meat also looks ggross
c. your veggies are old, they are also more expensive

i have no clue why walmart grocery is popular when you pay more than other local grocers, the food is older/rotten and its of lower quality.

I agree.
About the only food I buy at Walmart is jars of Orville Redenbacher's popcorn. It's a larger container and about half the price per ounce compared to the local grocery stores.
 

nutzo

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If they're worried about food borne illness they should look at their own distribution first. A friend of mine was a trailer mechanic at one of the distribution centers. During the summer time a lot of their drivers don't turn the refer unit on until they are backing in to receive a load. Those trailers get up over 100 degrees inside without the refer on so by the time the trailer is brought down to temp the frozen foods have had a chance to thaw out and refreeze on the way to the store. I avoid walmart like the plague for many reasons but this is a big one.

Just like buying milk.
Never buy it at a small drug or 7-11 type store. The milk will usually go bad before the date on the bottle because it hasn't been kept cool enough the entire time.
When these small stores get a delivery, the milk and other cold foods will sit in the back or an isle for hours before someone puts then in the refrigerated cases.

Grocery stores usually have a large cold storage area for newly delivered items, so the milk usually last till the date on the bottle.

Costco is usually better. I've had milk 3-4 days past the date and it was still fine.
It's because Costco keeps the milk cold, and moves their inventory quickly. Once it is in my fridge, it's kept very cold, so it lasts a long time.
 

Patton187

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i cant eat walmart food though ...
a. meat... can you just stop pumping food coloring in it
b. your prices for meat are higher than local chains but the meat also looks ggross
c. your veggies are old, they are also more expensive

i have no clue why walmart grocery is popular when you pay more than other local grocers, the food is older/rotten and its of lower quality.
Preach.
 

oROEchimaru

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Food deserts. It is expensive to have a grocery store in the middle of nowhere. An "average" sized Kroger takes $20M to build and then add operational costs which increase absurdly when a large fresh produce section gets put in. Walmart is the only national outlet willing to do this for these locations, so sometimes it's the only choice. If there's other choices... well.....



I don't necessarily believe it's faster than a well managed big-data type database. Google seems to do it rather well.... all transactions go in. query reveals results right quick.



lol you know USA agencies are never about prevention: there's no money to be made by the contractors that way.... Take FEMA for example: its whole purpose is to rebuild following natural disasters. Why don't we take that budget and use it to build infrastructure that might mitigate damage and reduce rebuild costs? Never! It's ridiculous. (google hoboken new jersey after Sandy and see what fema money is allowed to do and what it isn't)


the walmart stores I see are always within 6-12 blocks for 1-3 other grocery stores in wisconsin. then again we have 1-3 churches within 1-3 blocks of every 1-3 bars. lol
 

darckhart

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You do realize Walmart has some of the best and brightest the world when it comes to database and logistics...right? You don't get that big (just like amazon) from price squeezing alone. If they are going block chain and they indicated the reason why...i'm pretty sure you need to have a better argument than "I don't believe". But a centralized database tracking every detail about every single produce/food movement in the US (and worldwide)....how cute....well, maybe they can do it if the NSA does the job. =P

Sorry, the article ONLY talks about digitizing data entry (which someone has to convert paper to digital anyway for traditional DB) and ability to see when a record is altered (which is also has a mechanism in DB called user accounts). The article literally says nothing else about benefits of blockchain and asks you to believe these two things will somehow be better than traditional methods. They don't talk about how data entry is a job filled with human error where corrections WILL need to be made, so the chain will constantly need to be altered. They don't talk about time to verify transaction nor how many blocks are needed to verify transaction. And they certainly don't talk about how large they anticipate the chain to get and how the previous three things may be affected.

I'm also sure you also know that big data DBs are NOT centralized.
 

Kalabalana

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My understanding may be flawed, but the main premise of a block chain is that once the data is in, it's locked, and cannot be changed, without reprocessing the hash for that particular block.
This extra layer of security governing data integrity is likely what they are going for I think.

In a perfect world, we wouldn't need extra security measures. But people are incompetent, lazy, and often deceitful, so we try to account for and prevent the undesired behavior that results from this.
 
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raz-0

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Can someone ELI5 why a blockchain is supposed to be better (apart from marketing reasons) as opposed to a conventional digital database?

That doesn't need to be a block chain though, it could be a git repo, or a line printer in FDA's office.

I believe in this instance, blockchain brings to the table the encoding of data, and the inability to alter encoded data without detection. If implemented end to end, it would ensure that you could trace the origin of anything in the pipeline from any point in the pipeline.

Not spoken of that I noted is the possibility it is a viable technology to still ensure data integrity and delivery to central logistics systems without giving vendors any kind of meaningful access to their systems and thus reducing opportunities for breaches.

I could be reaching on that one though, that would have a lot to do with implementation.
 

zkostik

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Because you're already there for other low priced Chinese garbage, so you end up picking up groceries also?

In all seriousness, as a former Walmart employee, I'm fairly confident Sam Walton would roll over in his grave at what his store has become.

Not sure if that's the mentality of people that go to Walmart. Seems many got there to save a buck as things are not much cheaper than elsewhere and some stuff costs more. Couples with that is non existent customer service, often rude employees, long and slow lines at checkout, folks that check receipt at the door (that alone is enough to underscore population they expect to shop there). General atmosphere is terrible and daunting to say the least and by the time you're done, you likely wasted more than going to say Target and paying a bit more. Though I wonder if you did buy same items at both, how different the total would be. Walmart is know to be one of the worst employers and how they treat their workers and undercut them to become the most profitable company, it's a real abomination.
 

kirbyrj

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Not sure if that's the mentality of people that go to Walmart. Seems many got there to save a buck as things are not much cheaper than elsewhere and some stuff costs more. Couples with that is non existent customer service, often rude employees, long and slow lines at checkout, folks that check receipt at the door (that alone is enough to underscore population they expect to shop there). General atmosphere is terrible and daunting to say the least and by the time you're done, you likely wasted more than going to say Target and paying a bit more. Though I wonder if you did buy same items at both, how different the total would be. Walmart is know to be one of the worst employers and how they treat their workers and undercut them to become the most profitable company, it's a real abomination.

You know you say that about the people checking the receipts Until you realize that their shrinkage rate is something like 10%. Personally they should check every person's receipt and then charge less money rather than assume 10% of their money is either going to walk off or come back broken.
 

zkostik

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You know you say that about the people checking the receipts Until you realize that their shrinkage rate is something like 10%. Personally they should check every person's receipt and then charge less money rather than assume 10% of their money is either going to walk off or come back broken.

I'm not surprised given that I know the kind of crowd that typically goes to Walmart. I just mentioned that it's a really poor shopping experience there with absolute distrust and employees give everyone a look like you stole something. This alone is enough for me to not going there unless it's absolutely last resort. I know no other store that is like that, not even local pawn shops are that bad. That sure says something...
 
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