Carrefour SA

PARIS — Extending its use of blockchain technology in France, Carrefour has partnered with Nestlé to employ the tracking technology on an instant potato mix called Mousline, with the help of IBM.

The companies said it was the first time a grocer and a branded food company have worked together to apply blockchain technology in Europe, as a broad range of sectors, including the luxury goods industry, consider its use to gain confidence with consumers who want more transparency.

Carrefour, the world’s second largest retailer after Walmart Inc. with extensive operations in Brazil, began using blockchain technology last year to track poultry from the Auvergne region in France and sold under the Carrefour label. New technologies are central to the retailer’s strategy as it undergoes a revamp to shore up defenses against the dominance of online behemoths Amazon and Alibaba.

Carrefour joined IBM’s Food Trust Platform last year, adding an international dimension to the network grouping retailers and producers. The platform relies on IBM’s cloud computing expertise and was developed with Walmart, serving as a network for actors in the grocery sector for sharing expertise and information about the origins of produce. Participants include grocery cooperative Topco Associates, producers such as Beefchain, Smithfield and Dennick Fruit Source, and food logistics company Scoular.

Blockchain technology, a type of decentralized, digital registry, allows products to be traced to their origins faster than has been traditionally possible — in a matter of seconds rather than days or weeks, according to IBM and Walmart.

The Carrefour and Nestlé partnership for the instant potato purée was forged through the IBM platform, and took less than six months to implement. Consumers will be able to scan the product with a smartphone to get information about the supply chain, the variety of potatoes used and manufacturing facilities.

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