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Seafood’s Biggest Problems May Be Soon Solved

Blockchain is digitizing the supply chain for scallops

The Lempert Report

IBM and Raw Seafoods Inc. are collaborating on using blockchain to help improve seafood traceability, sustainability and fraud.

The plan is to connect global sourcing partners, retailers and restaurateurs who will begin using the IBM Food Trust platform to enhance seafood traceability by digitizing the supply chain for fresh scallops sourced from the Atlantic Sea Scallop Fishery.

Yes, it is only one species, so far, but scallops are often found to be imitations that are merely cut from a cheaper fish. For a couple of reasons: The other fish used are less expensive and afford a restaurant or retailer more margin but also, nearly 30 years ago, overfishing nearly drove the scallop industry out of business. And consumers still wanted their scallops.

The platform will enable distributors and retailers to identify exactly when and where a given lot of scallops was harvested, track when the boat landed portside, and when each scallop lot was hand-graded, selected, packed and shipped to its final destination. This information, as well as images and video, is uploaded via satellite to a distributed ledger while still offshore. Once it is uploaded, this information is then available to permissioned parties, including distributors, suppliers, retailers and even to their customers at point-of-sale.

This initial blockchain effort will address a number of problems that many in the industry, including the U.S. Department of Agriculture, believe explains why between 80% and 90% of Americans eat less than the recommended amount of seafood. From widespread seafood fraud and mislabeling to the simple fact that about 80% of the seafood in the United States is imported, few consumers know where their seafood actually comes from. And they want to.

Rajendra Rao, general manager of IBM Food Trust, says it best: “We’re able to solve three of the core consumer concerns that deter them from enjoying seafood: safety, sustainability and authenticity.”

Now onto adding the other 33,000 species of fish to blockchain.

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