Traceability ‘from seed to plate’: Auchan rolling out blockchain internationally

By Katy Askew contact

- Last updated on GMT

Auchan says it is championing 'local, healthy food' with the expansion of its blockchain initiative ©iStock/JIRAROJ PRADITCHAROENKUL
Auchan says it is championing 'local, healthy food' with the expansion of its blockchain initiative ©iStock/JIRAROJ PRADITCHAROENKUL
French retailer Auchan is planning an international launch for blockchain technology in its supply chain.

Auchan, which conducted initial tests in Vietnam in partnership with German start-up Te-Food, said that it will introduce the technology to its operations in France, Italy, Spain, Portugal and Senegal.

“From seed to plate, information on all stages of a product’s life is now available to consumers in a fully transparent manner,”​ the company said.

A collaborative initiative that guarantees food safety

The blockchain technology is implemented by all participants involved at the various stages of a product’s life, from the time a seed is supplied by a seed producer to the moment a product reaches the plate. Each producer, processor, logistics operator and distributor records all relevant product information on a single platform.

This guarantees traceability from one end of the supply chain to the other, Auchan explained. When the product arrives in store, customers can immediately access all this information by scanning a QR code printed on the product’s label.

This strengthens transparency, quality and food safety, Auchan said. Consumers can access information on the precise origin and journey of the products they consume in a fully transparent manner. Meanwhile, all participants in the supply chain can reliably ensure that each item is of the highest quality.

Successful test in Vietnam

With a view to rolling out the blockchain technology in all the countries in which Auchan operates, and therefore in very different food security environments, the group took the decision to trial the process in Vietnam with Te-Food, using a public blockchain solution known as FoodChain.

In Vietnam, the blockchain solution has been fully introduced via three interfaces. The first is an inventory management tool that allows the local competent authorities to check the certificates issues by farms. The second is a business-to-business application through which the various operators in the logistics chain can provide product traceability data. And the third is a business-to-consumer application that allows consumers to access information on the product’s life cycle up to the point it reaches the store.

Launched as part of a government project in Ho Chi Minh City, the testing carried out by Auchan Retail Vietnam has been “a great success”​, the company concluded.

It is currently being used on 18,000 pigs, 200,000 chickens and 2.5 million eggs, and will soon be used for aubergines, mangos and durian fruit.

Case study: Carrots in France

carrots1

Blockchain technology has already been introduced in France to the organic carrot supply chain.

After the carrots are harvested from the various plots on the Larrère & Fils farms, they are transported to the processing area in crates equipped with RFID tags that track their journey. The carrots are separated into batches based on the plots from which they were harvested.

The dynamic QR code is then printed on the packaging. This QR code contains all the information emitted by the RFID tags together with information that is gradually enriched by the various participants in the supply chain. This includes any phytosanitary treatment carried out on the carrots, any specific product features and taste attributes, etc.

This data, which cannot be altered, continues to be fed into the blockchain up until the point the product arrives in store.

Consumers can scan the QR code on the packaging to obtain all the information on the product stored in the blockchain. With a view to providing maximum transparency, customers can also verify the data against the public blockchain technology that is used (FoodChain).

International deployment

The use of blockchain will be rolled out to the retailer’s French potato and chicken supply in December and February respectively.

In Italy, blockchain will be introduced to the tomato and chicken supply chains and in Spain it will cover Iberian pork products and locally grown exotic fruits, before being introduced to the chicken supply chain in Portugal and Senegal.

“The flexible and versatile solution developed by Te-Food is in keeping with Auchan Retail’s global-local initiative. By adapting to traceability tools that are already in use in the various countries in which it operates and thanks to a certain level of interoperability between the various blockchain technologies (both public and private) currently used in the market, local practices can be rapidly and respectfully rolled out,”​ Auchan concluded.

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