US-headquartered retailer Walmart is investing US$25m over five years into food safety research in China.
Walmart CEO Doug McMillon was in Beijing on 19 October to announce the investment and launch the Beijing Food Safety Collaboration Centre, reports Reuters.
“By bringing together the best food safety thinkers from across the food ecosystem, from farmers to suppliers, retailers to policy regulators, we’ll accelerate food safety awareness and help make Chinese families safer and healthier,” McMillon said.
The Walmart Foundation will fund projects in science, education and communications, working with Tsingua University and global technology company IBM to track the movement of food products across China using blockchain technology.
IBM said the blockchain technology keeps a permanent record of transactions, tracing produce from farms to store shelves, and could offer an alternative to packaging tracking and manual inspections.
"Advanced technology has reached into so many aspects of modern life but it has lagged in food traceability, and in particular in creating more secure food supply chains," Bridget van Kralingen, IBM senior VP industry platforms told Reuters.
The technology is expected to improve food safety and part of Walmart’s strategy to improve its positioning in the China after several food safety scandals in China.
Earlier this year, Walmart China announced an investment in Chinese e-tailer JD.com to grow its e-commerce positioning in China.