- Mastercard and Envisible, a food supply chain traceability provider, are partnering to power Envisible's Wholechain traceability system, according to a press release. Topco, a national food cooperative, will pilot the service across its member grocery chains starting with Food City.
- The grocer will use Wholechain to gain visibility into the ethical sourcing and environmental compliance of its seafood offerings, namely cod, salmon and shrimp, through the platform's blockchain ledger, supply chain dashboards and other tools.
- In addition, Wholechain's mobile app and QR-code system allows shoppers to scan an item before purchasing to learn about how it got from sea to store, a move Topco and Envisible executives anticipate will build customer trust alongside greater supply chain accountability.
Historically, seafood supply chains have been difficult to trace. The majority of U.S. seafood is imported from a variety of sources, often relying on small suppliers that lack traceability in their own operations.
Mastercard, Envisible and Topco, in addition to competitors such as Bumble Bee Foods, IBM Food Trust and OpenSC, are seeking to leverage blockchain's potential to bring visibility to hard to reach parts of the seafood supply chain, recognizing customer calls for greater insight into where their food comes from.
"The identity of things is becoming even more important as consumers raise demands for transparency," Deborah Barta, senior vice president of innovation and startup engagement at Mastercard, said in the release. "Our provenance solution leverages Mastercard’s established network capabilities, globally-scaled technology, and services, such as payments and counterfeit programs."
Mastercard's provenance solution has also been adopted by major luxury fashion retailers to secure their designs against rampant counterfeiting. Similar to the Food City application, customers scan a QR code with a smartphone to view details on a given product's origins using data collected and stored on a blockchain ledger throughout the production process.
There is evidence consumers respond positively to this level of transparency, thereby benefiting retailers and brands. Earlier this year, French grocery retailer Carrefour launched a similar QR-code based blockchain pilot on items including meat, milk and fruit. According to the company's Q1 earnings report, like-for-like sales grew 2.7% for the year on products included in the pilot.
Dan Glei, executive vice president of merchandising and marketing at Food City, said in a statement he believes Wholechain will enable the grocer to "pinpoint issues in the food chain during any unfortunate events such as recalls."