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This article was published on May 7, 2019

IBM is putting sustainable shrimp on the blockchain

From blockchain to barbecue

IBM is putting sustainable shrimp on the blockchain
Matthew Beedham
Story by

Matthew Beedham

Editor, SHIFT by TNW

Matthew is the editor of SHIFT. He likes electric cars, and other things with wheels, wings, or hulls. Matthew is the editor of SHIFT. He likes electric cars, and other things with wheels, wings, or hulls.

Shrimp is the latest foodstuff to make its way to the blockchain, courtesy of IBM.

The Sustainable Shrimp Partnership (SSP) yesterday announced that its joined IBM’s Food Trust ecosystem which claims to use blockchain to provide greater transparency over where your food comes from.

The SSP says it will be using the IBM blockchain to track the journey of Ecuadorian farmed shrimp from birth to barbecue.

SSP members – including the shrimp farmers – will enter data about the shrimp at each stage of its supply chain, which will be open for retailers all over the globe to view.

According to the announcement, the SSP plans to enable consumer access to supply chain information via an app, which will let customers view the entire supply chain history of the shrimp they’re buying.

Blockchain is only part of the solution

The Food Trust system claims to provide verification that shrimp meets certain standards, such as being zero antibiotic approved, or certified to the Aquaculture Stewardship Council (ASC) standard.

If the shipment meets those standards, uploading this information to the IBM blockchain may make it visible to more people. But just because the information is on the blockchain, doesn’t make it inherently true.

Hard Fork has contacted IBM to find out what processes are in place to ensure information added to the SSP blockchain is correct, we will update this piece as we learn more.

“SSP shrimp is farmed to the highest social and environmental standards, and we want to ensure consumers have confidence in these commitments by providing complete accountability,” Pamela Nath, SSP Director said.

With the supply chain information openly viewable to the public, it does indeed make farmers more accountable, so long as the information provided is correct.

That said, it’s not stopping producers and retailers from giving it a go.

Just last week, French supermarket Carrefour put cheese on the blockchain. It says it will add QR codes to packaging that customers can scan to find out where their cheese came from. It also put milk on the blockchain back in March.

Carrefour is also working with IBM to go big on blockchain. It wants to track 20 percent of its produce using the decentralized technology by 2020.

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