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IBM Food Trust Keeps Gaining Traction for Food Traceability Projects, but Validating Success Still Requires Data

Jerrold Wang, Analyst
July 26, 2021

Nueva Pescanova, one of Spain's largest seafood companies specializing in the fishing and processing of fresh, refrigerated, and frozen seafood products, announced that it would use IBM's blockchain-based Food Trust platform to trace its seafood products across the supply chain. IBM's solution is based on the GDST 1.0 standards and open-source technology like Hyperledger Fabric. Nueva Pescanova will start the project by tracing its shrimp fishing in Argentina and cultivation of Vannamei prawns in Ecuador. The company aims to offer consumers detailed information on product traceability, showing its initiatives in sustainability, quality, and food safety.

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This project will build a network for fisheries, producers, and distributors to enter and share data as well as review the data shared by other supply chain stakeholders according to their different levels of permission. In addition to better product information transparency for consumers, this food traceability project will enable Nueva Pescanova to have better visibility of its supply chain and stronger control over product quality. If successful, we expect the project may also bring more tangible benefits to the company, such as improvements in supply chain efficiency and increased product sales due to consumers' higher confidence. However, the cost and time associated with the deployment of software tools and hardware devices for this project are not clear.

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IBM Food Trust has been getting increasing market traction since its launch in 2018, and the company has become one of the most well-known providers of food traceability technology. Agrifood companies interested in analyzing or launching food traceability projects should reach out to IBM for pilot projects. However, innovators should pay attention to two risks. First, multiple IBM Food Trust projects have not announced results (especially the economic impact of the projects), so organizations should set proper expectations for the projects with IBM Food Trust.

Second, companies should decide whether it's necessary to adopt blockchain-based technology for food traceability projects, considering that food traceability tools based on blockchain are usually more complex than non-blockchain ones (like FoodLogiQ) and that it's not clear whether the blockchain system can still maintain a high efficiency and low operational cost when the number of supply chain participants becomes large.

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