When a couple of brand guys to think to themselves, “hey, a blockchain solution would help these lettuce and spinach suppliers trace back salmonella and e. coli super-quickly,” that’s one thing. When Walmart, seller of 25% of all the produce in America, makes it a mandate, it’s quite another.

Yesterday, executives from Walmart and Sam’s Club announced a new mandate around the Walmart Food Traceability Initiative. Walmart believes, and we agree, that the one-step-up-one-step-back traceability model is outdated. Consequently, they’ve mandated that suppliers are required to trace back products to farms by seconds, rather than days, and have given direct suppliers a little over four months to get on the IBM Food Trust bandwagon. Walmart has also mandated that direct suppliers push their suppliers to implement end-to-end traceability (e.g., get everyone in their orbit into gear) to get onto IBM Food Trust by September 30, 2019.

Confirmation, validation, affirmation…exhilaration!

I won’t lie: when Mark and I heard about this, it felt a bit like SpaceX hearing that NASA would be outsourcing launches. We were smiling ear to ear. Not because the effort would drive potential business into the arms of IBM, but because it was a huge validation that we are on the right path with Transparent Path.

I’m happy for the IBM Food Trust team – they will have their hands full with this announcement. But others in the food ecosystem have shared concerns with us, such as whether Walmart will enforce the timing of this mandate, and if smaller supply chain players can truly afford the monthly cloud access to join the IBM platform.

All of us in the food traceability business are fighting the same good fight, so this is great news for us, our partners and our competitors. You can read the email from Walmart US to their leafy green suppliers here.

– Eric