The technology, already used for its free-range Quality Line Auvergne chickens, will be applied to eight more product lines, such as eggs, cheese, milk, oranges, tomatoes, salmon and ground beefsteak.
“Become the leader of the food transition for everyone is the aim that Alexandre Bompard has set for the Carrefour group,” said Laurent Vallée, Carrefour's general secretary and head of quality and food safety.
“Making use of Blockchain technology is an exemplary step in meeting this aim. This is a first in Europe and will provide consumers with guaranteed complete transparency as far as the traceability of our products is concerned.”
Plans to implement the technology will comprise of QR Codes attached to the product's label which consumers will be able to scan using their smartphones.
As well as information about the product and the journey it has taken, details on how the animal was reared and the name of the farmer will be included.
A showcase tool?
Blockchain technology could arguably be a showcase for the breeder’s produce and expertise, with details on what feed was used, what treatments were administered as well as where they were slaughtered.
Carrefour said they would use the technology to share a secure database with partners in order to guarantee a higher level of food safety.
The French retailer joins mounting interest in Blockchain technology already expressed by the likes of Unilever, Mars and Friesland Campina.
In its simplest form, the technology is an electronic ledger under decentralised control capable of tracing transactions and assets.
As well as the issue of transparency, the food industry are also encouraged by its ability to digitally track products from suppliers to store shelves and consumers.
Food safety, in which cross-contamination, spread of foodborne illness and the cost of recalls have made the news, could be issues reduced by Blockchain’s unrivalled access to information and traceability.
For all its promise, critics have highlighted that while information might be incorruptible once it has entered the chain, there are few safeguards to prevent the entry of incorrect data in the first place.
Carrefour going forwards
Carrefour’s plans form part of its 2022 transformation plan in which the group detailed its investment in its food e-commerce sector that includes a promise of €2.8bn on digital technologies with a view to reach €5bn in turnover in food e-commerce by 2022.
Revealing the plans at the start of this year, Alexandre Bompard, Carrefour’s chairman and chief executive officer spoke about the company’s responsibility for its private labels. This, he said, means having “perfect traceability”.
“Carrefour is the only retail player to use the block chain technology to improve traceability of its products.
“We are now testing out an application of this technology on our bird-raising sustainability. We can trace the entire journey of a chicken from the hatchery [to] its inclusion in our stores, going through breeding, feeding, care and indeed slaughtering.
“By 2018, the Blockchain system should be present in all Carrefour subsidiaries; they should lead by example in terms of traceability.”