Dole Food Company, the world’s largest producer of fruits and vegetables, has been a blockchain advocate since joining IBM’s Food Trust program in 2017—but the company plans to expand that initiative much further in the coming years.
In its Corporate Responsibility & Sustainability Report 2020 document released this week, as first spotted by CoinDesk, Dole wrote that it would “implement blockchain product tagging technology and/or advanced traceability solutions in all Dole divisions by 2025.”
Dole already tracks some of its produce on the blockchain, dramatically trimming the amount of time needed to discover which farm a fruit or vegetable came from—and its entire path to the customer. That’s critical during a recall, when quickly discovering the source of contaminated food can be a matter of life and death, not to mention large amounts of money and wasted food.
“Blockchain cuts the average time needed for food safety investigations from weeks to mere seconds,” reads the report. “Produce that’s been logged via blockchain can be instantly tracked back through the supply chain, giving retailers and consumers confidence in the event of a recall.”
Eventually, Dole plans to allow customers to scan a bag of produce to access that information, which is currently only available to retail partners with built-in protections to prevent companies from viewing proprietary information about others. Additionally, Dole will add even more produce to its blockchain tracking program in the “near future.”
One of many
Food tracking has been one of the more prominent use cases of blockchain technology to date, with more than 170 companies in the IBM Food Trust, as of October 2019.
It’s used to track everything from lettuce and coffee beans to scallops and shrimp—even baby formula. Food producers such as Nestlé and Raw Seafoods are on the chain, along with retail giants such as Walmart and Albertsons, plus there are other blockchain-driven food-tracing platforms such as FoodLogiq, ripe.io, and TE-FOOD.
It might not be long before we can pop into a supermarket and trace a bunch of bananas back to its source—why we might want to, however, is anyone’s guess.