Carrefour, one of largest retailers in France and the world, has seen produce sales improved year-over-year in products the market chain started tracking with blockchain technology.
That’s per Carrefour blockchain head Emmanuel Delerm, who confirmed in new comments to Reuters the company is preparing to track dozens of further items with blockchain after an initial run tracking the supply chains of their sourced eggs, milk, pork, grapefruit, and beyond seemed to improve customer trust, and thus sales.
As such, the retailer is looking to extend that trust into further food products and, eventually, merchandise. Its blockchain system, leveraged with the help of IBM, allows shoppers to use QR codes to check supported items’ logistical data, like where and when cheese was produced — information that’s increasingly desired by increasingly conscientious contemporary consumers.
Customers simply prefer options they can trust, as Delerm explained it:
“[We] are building a halo effect: ‘If I can trust Carrefour with this chicken, I can also trust Carrefour for their apples or cheese’ … The pomelo [grapefruit] sold faster than the year before due to blockchain. We had a positive impact on the chicken versus the non-blockchain chicken.”
Blockchain is routinely touted as an auditability solution, with logistics being among the tech’s most promising use cases, its proponents say. Carrefour’s position — that of a global retail powerhouse — and its results will undoubtedly influence competitors in the industry to explore similar systems in their own operations.
Of course, Carrefour isn’t the only major retailer already delving into blockchain, either.
Walmart Makes Blockchain Tracking Pivot of Its Own
This week, a Walmart spokesperson confirmed the company had come aboard with a consortium that’s developing a blockchain for pharmaceutical logistics.
That group, MediLedger, is no slouch, boasting major members from the wider pharmaceutical industry like Pfizer and Cardinal Health. For its part, Walmart is the largest retailer in the world by revenue as of 2018, having pulled in more than $500 million USD on the year. So the consortium is poised
It’s not the corporation’s first rodeo when it comes to blockchain supply chain work, however, as Walmart is already counted among the members of the IBM Food Trust, which is aimed at a “smarter and more sustainable food ecosystem.”
Like how JP Morgan uses its own Quorum, a permissioned version of Ethereum, in its blockchain operations, the MediLedger group runs its own private and modified version of Ethereum. MediLedger’s version relies on Proof-of-authority (POA) consensus as opposed to Proof-of-work (POW) consensus.
Walmart’s joining in at a time of heightened activity, as MediLedger is running a blockchain pilot with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) this summer. The project will be focused around auditing prescription drug flows.
Notably, the MediLedger blockchain uses zero-knowledge proofs (ZKPs) to allow for auditability while also keeping transaction details private. The enterprise focus on ZKPs has been mirrored in other recent efforts, most notably from JP Morgan’s Anonymous Zether and EY’s Nightfall tools.
A Trend Starting to Materialize, or Just Notable Experiments for Now?
For blockchain to reach mainstream adoption, having the world’s largest companies embrace the tech would naturally be a strong place to start. Carrefour’s and Walmart’s aforementioned efforts would seem to be two such dominoes.
Another would be the advance of TradeLens, a shipping logistics blockchain platform that’s been developed in collaboration between Danish transportation conglomerate Maersk and IBM.
Maersk is the world’s largest container ship business, and last week the company enlisted CMA CGM and Mediterranean Shipping Co — two of the international stage’s other largest shippers — aboard TradeLens.
The grand question for now is whether these large enterprises are just doing their homework, or if blockchain can become the new status quo in supply chain flows — not just in the retail and shipping sectors but beyond.