As announced in a press release on June 25, the Chinese arm of Walmart, the U.S. supermarket giant, has partnered with PwC (PricewaterhouseCoopers) and VeChain to launch the blockchain traceability platform for addressing the food safety concerns of customers. The blockchain traceability platform of Walmart China is named the VeChainThor Blockchain and its launch and signing ceremony happened at the 2019 China Products Safety Publicity Week Traceability System Construction seminar which was jointly organized in Beijing by Walmart China and CCFA (China Chain-Store & Franchise Association).
PwC (PricewaterhouseCoopers), the global network of firms, helps businesses thrive and is supported by more than 2,50,000 people in 158 countries. It provides professional services such as tax and consulting, audit and assurance, human resources, cybersecurity, and privacy, etc.
The VeChainThor blockchain platform already lists 23 tested product lines and VeChain plans to list another 100 across 10 product categories by the end of the year and these categories will include rice, mushrooms, fresh meat, cooking oil, etc. VeChain’s blockchain technology enables Walmart China to introduce and implement a scalability strategy for products to be a forerunner in the large-scale application of blockchain technology. The VeChainThor blockchain will allow customers to scan the products with a smartphone and obtain detailed information such as the source of the tracked products, their geographic location, the route taken by the product to reach the supermarket, product inspection reports, and much more.
VeChain was launched in 2015 with the aim of connecting the real world with blockchain technology by providing a robust economic model, comprehensive governance structure, and IoT integration. It is the pioneer in creating real-world applications using blockchain technology. It leverages blockchain to solve issues such as product traceability and counterfeits across supply chains and logistics in agriculture, luxury goods, wines, transportation, logistics, pharmaceuticals, automobile, etc. VeChain operates in international destinations such as Tokyo, Shanghai, Paris, Singapore, Hong Kong, San Francisco, and Luxembourg.
VeChain went live a year ago with the aim of being the first in putting real business applications on a public blockchain. The consensus algorithm it uses is a form of permissioned consensus called proof-of-authority, which is an alternative to proof-of-work and proof-of-stake mining methods. With its new blockchain, Walmart China eventually expects to start synchronizing data from local government traceability and supplier platforms. Data collection and data availability will be continually added to the scale of the platform.
Walmart, incorporated in 1969, offers an assortment of merchandise and services at everyday low prices (EDLP). It operates in three segments namely Walmart U.S., Sam’s Club, and Walmart International. Walmart operates approximately 11600 stores, in 28 countries under 58 banners, and e-commerce websites in 11 countries.
Daniel Shih, the chief corporate affairs officer of Walmart China, stated that Walmart improves efficiency and transparency through digital methods and continues to invest in improving supply chains.
By the end of 2020, the traceability system of Walmart China will be able to track the sales of 50% of the total packaged fresh meat, 40 percent of total packaged vegetables, and 12.5 percent of seafood. As stated by Elton Yeung, strategy and innovation lead at PwC Mainland China and Hong Kong, “We believe that Walmart’s Blockchain Traceability System will be an excellent example of blockchain technology applied in the retail industry, helping to improve food safety and quality management, and providing a strong guarantee for building consumer trust.”
According to Kevin Feng, the Chief Operating Officer of VeChain, “VeChain will work with Walmart China to actively take heed of the call of the government, by utilizing technology to promote the traceability of fresh food, and to provide innovative solutions for the traceability platform through digital technology, so as to generate more transparent and reassuring consumption experience.”
Walmart is one such retailer which has always been greatly trusted by consumers as it has been devoted to food safety and quality management. VeChain’s blockchain will enable participants of the supply chain to share their portion of data, and promote the management efficiency and visibility of the entire chain by utilizing this tamper-proof and decentralized blockchain technology. This will ensure transparency of product information and the authenticity of product data.