ARMONK, N.Y. and PARIS – European retailer Carrefour has joined the IBM Food Trust, a food supply chain network that utilizes blockchain based cloud technology.

Carrefour, which operates 12,000 stores in 33 countries, initially will use the network to trace a number of Carrefour-brand products before rolling out the solution to all Carrefour brands by 2022.

“Being a founding member of the IBM Food Trust platform is a great opportunity for Carrefour to accelerate and widen the integration of blockchain technology to our products in order to provide our clients with safe and undoubted traceability,” said Laurent Vallée, general secretary of Carrefour. "This is a decisive step in the roll-out of Act for Food, our global program of concrete initiatives in favor of the food transition.”

Blockchain provides users a secure shared database of transactions that are auditable and can’t be altered without permission from other members in the network. In the event of a food safety problem, products can be traced back to the source within minutes instead of days or weeks.

Carrefour joins a growing number of retailers and food manufacturers and suppliers that are adopting traceability systems that employ blockchain networks. Walmart Inc., for example, recently announced the company will require suppliers of leafy greens to implement blockchain technology by 2019. Walmart and IBM previously have worked on pilot projects that use blockchain technology to track mangoes in the United States and pork in China as the products move through the supply chain.

Other companies that have joined the IBM Food Trust include cooperative Topco Associates LLC, which represents 49 members reaching more than 15,000 stores and 65 million weekly customers; retailer-owned cooperative Wakefern, representing 50-member companies and 349 stores; and suppliers such as BeefChain, Dennick Fruit Source, Scoular and Smithfield Foods.

“The currency of trust today is transparency and achieving it in the area of food safety happens when responsibility is shared,” said Bridget van Kralingen, senior vice president, IBM Global Industries, Clients, Platforms and Blockchain. “That collaborative approach is how the members of IBM Food Trust have shown blockchain can strengthen transparency and drive meaningful enhancements to food traceability. Ultimately that provides business benefits for participants and a better and safer product for consumers.”