Blockchain Gives ‘Illusion of Traceability’ for Walmart


Experts allege the biggest hurdle facing the blockchain systems being adopted by food retail  giants such as Walmart and Nestlé has nothing to do with the technology itself.

In an interview with Tech Wire Asia, published on Nov. 7, Craig Heraghty — Agribusiness Leader at “Big Four” auditor PwC — reflected on the rising trend of blockchain among major retailers globally. He argued that:

“The weakest link in the chain is not blockchain or any technology, the weakest link is the piece of sticky tape that puts the label on the package. You have to think like a fraudster and see where you can copy a label or a QR code.”

“A worrying trend”

Heraghty contended that blockchain is a potential concern insofar as it gives an “illusion of traceability” to supermarket chains and consumers, given that while the data record itself may be tamper-proof, physical points of entry aren’t necessarily foolproof.

Beyond this point, Heraghty didn’t have a solution other than to stress that the onus remains on enterprises to bear the responsibility to try to protect their systems against vulnerability to fraud by dishonest saboteurs.

Food retail giants still keen

As reported,  Walmart’s wide-ranging pursuit of blockchain-related projects has to date focused on using the technology in areas such as supply chain management, customer marketplaces and smart appliances.

Most recently, it filed a patent for a potential digital currency that would form part of a blockchain-based service ecosystem and could support an “open-platform value exchange for purchases and for crowdsource work.” 

Switzerland-headquartered food retail giant Nestlé has recently admitted some of the challenges it faces with its own blockchain venture, noting it had to adopt a “start-up mindset” in order to push ahead with its digital transformation ambitions.

This summer,  Nestlé Australia’s “Chain of Origin” initiative to implement blockchain technology for supply chain management was nominated for an award by United States-based market intelligence firm, the International Data Corporation. 

The project aims to enable Nestlé customers to track their products using blockchain in a bid to provide more transparent information about their provenance and production.