How IBM Could Monetize Its Food-Tracking Platform


Nov. 20 2020, Updated 1:30 p.m. ET

Walmart adopts IBM’s food-tracking platform

IBM (IBM) has built a blockchain platform that provides real-time food supply chain tracking. The platform is designed to simplify the traceability of food items. IBM’s blockchain food-tracking platform is ready for commercialization, and Walmart (WMT) is one of the early adopters of the technology.

Starting September next year, Walmart will require suppliers of certain fresh food produce to utilize IBM’s food tracking technology so the origin of such products can be tracked back to the farm in real time, Walmart’s food safety executive, Frank Yiannas, told Bloomberg recently. Initially, some 100 Walmart suppliers are expected to implement IBM’s food tracking technology. Walmart intends to expand its suppliers’ use of the platform in the future.

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Suppliers to pay monthly fee to use platform

Besides Walmart, about ten other companies including Dole Food and Unilever are exploring using IBM’s blockchain platform to track the origin of supplies. IBM would make money from its blockchain food tracking platform by charging suppliers a fee to use it. Rates will be based on supplier turnover. Suppliers making less than $50 million in annual sales could pay several hundred dollars a month, IBM vice president Brigid McDermott told Bloomberg.

$60.7 billion revenue opportunity

IBM is one of the companies leading the race to make money from blockchain technology. The company has more than 500 blockchain projects underway and has submitted 89 applications for blockchain-related patents, according to data from iPR Daily. Alibaba (BABA) is leading with 90 blockchain patent applications. Mastercard (MA) has made 80 blockchain patent applications, and Bank of America (BAC) has submitted 53.

The global market for blockchain products and services is poised to grow to $60.7 billion by 2024 from $708 million in 2017, according to WinterGreen Research.


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