Suzanne Livingston: June 5, 2020

IBM Technology Promotes Food Safety, Reduces Food Waste, and Revolutionizes the Supply Chain

In honor of World Food Safety Day, learn how new technologies are revolutionizing the food supply chain and what companies are joining the Food Trust to provide transparency to consumers and producers


Suzanne Livingston

Director of the IBM Food Trust Network

World Food Safety Day, celebrated on June 7, was created by the World Health Organization W(HO) to draw attention and inspire action to help prevent, detect and manage foodborne risks, and other challenges impacting global food safety. One thing many don’t realize is how common foodborne illnesses are. In fact, the WHO estimates that 1 in 10 people fall ill due to foodborne diseases each year. In the U.S., the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that roughly 48 million people get sick and 128,000 are hospitalized from foodborne diseases each year. Additionally, no single end-to-end view of food delivery exists, making it difficult to manage safety issues within the supply chain when contaminations like E.coli emerge, causing costly delays and impacting public health.

Companies like IBM have found new ways to apply technology to add traceability to the food supply chain, combat foodborne illness, reduce food waste, and solve other challenges with the global food supply chain. How are they doing it, and what’s next for the future of technology and the food industry?

Blockchain technology provides solutions for a variety of issues plaguing the global food supply, and the supply chain. A blockchain network can permanently store data through a growing list of records, called blocks, that are linked using written codes (cryptography), where each block contains a cryptographic hash of the previous block, a timestamp, and transaction data that cannot be altered. The technology could serve as an alternative to traditional paper tracking and manual inspection systems, which can leave supply chains vulnerable to inaccuracies.


For example, Kvarøy Arctic, a Norwegian salmon producer, will begin providing products to Whole Foods stores in United States with this tracking technology via a QR code. In production, members of the supply chain will download and use an app to scan each salmon lot at each point of receipt. Kvarøy Arctic then can grant permission to distributor and retail partners, allowing them to see data about the grade of feed used, the population and density of the habitats the salmon were raised in, their age, harvest date and more, helping keep suppliers, and eventually customers, more informed about where their food came from.


IBM Food Trust is one of the world’s largest non-crypto blockchain networks in production and today has more than 200 participants representing more than 17,000 products, from salmon and scallops, to leafy greens and mashed potatoes. IBM Food Trust, launched in August 2017, connects the diverse food ecosystem, enabling increased efficiency, automated supply chain visibility, and strengthened consumer relationships from farm to store.


We are making IBM’s Suzanne Livingston available to discuss World Food Safety day, and how technology is improving food safety for businesses and consumers around the world. Suzanne can discuss how blockchain technology works in the supply chain, what this means for consumers, and what types of foods are being traced and vetted with this technology. 


More About Suzanne Livingston:

Suzanne Livingston, Director of the IBM Food Trust Network


As the Director of the IBM Food Trust Network, Suzanne brings transparency, accountability, and traceability to the food supply chain using blockchain. Prior to blockchain, Suzanne launched and scaled new offerings for IBM, including social software, cloud collaboration, and the fintech platform for developers. Suzanne leads product management organizations with a collaborative, inclusive approach having been on the front lines of product management, engineering, and user experience. Suzanne founded the MIT Product Management Club, was a Product Management 101 & 102 Teaching Fellow at Harvard Business School.



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