IBM deploys blockhain to improve scallop supply chain
October 29, 2019
IBM and Massachusetts-based Raw Seafoods are working together to connect global sourcing partners, retailers and restaurateurs who will begin using IBM’s Food Trust blockchain platform to enhance seafood traceability.
Built on IBM’s blockchain platform, the initiative will start by digitising the supply chain for scallops sourced from the Atlantic Sea Scallop Fishery.
Scallopers owned by Captain Danny Eilertsen of New Bedford, Massachusetts, will begin uploading data about their catch onto the platform, enabling distributors and retailers to identify exactly when and where a given lot of scallops was harvested. The platform will also track when the boat landed portside, and when each scallop lot was hand graded, selected, packed and shipped to its final destination.
This information, images and video are uploaded via satellite while still offshore. Once uploaded, this information is then available to permissioned parties, including distributors, suppliers, retailers and their customers at point of sale.
The technology will address a number of problems that many in the industry believe explain why between 80 and 90 per cent of Americans eat less than the recommended allotment of seafood. From widespread seafood fraud and mislabelling to the simple fact that roughly 80 per cent of the seafood in the USA is imported, few consumers know where their seafood actually comes from.
From a sustainability standpoint, the data gathered and stored on blockchain can help fishing boats source more strategically, providing boat owners a direct connection to the last kilometre in the distribution channels. Blockchain provides an immutable record of provenance, building confidence in the quality and freshness of the catch.
"We are always actively engaged in helping our suppliers, retailers and restaurants deliver a product that's well above the industry standard for quality and freshness," said Daniel McQuade, Raw Seafoods vice president of marketing. "With IBM Food Trust, we found the perfect tool for establishing a direct link between the consumer and the captain of the boat that caught their fish, empowering shoppers and diners to demand more from their food supply chain."
Nearly 30 years ago, overfishing nearly drove the scallop industry to the breaking point. In subsequent years, new technologies and improved management helped the industry rebound to catch sizes of more than 50 million pounds annually, enough to make the port of New Bedford the most valuable fishing port in the USA for 18 consecutive years as of 2017.
"IBM Food Trust has helped some of the world's most respected food brands and grocers improve consumer trust, address inefficiencies and promote supply chain integrity," said Rajendra Rao, general manager of IBM Food Trust. "Traditionally, tracing the origin of a given food product could take days, if it was possible at all, especially for wild caught sea scallops. By reducing that time frame to a matter of seconds, we're able to solve three of the core consumer concerns that deter them from enjoying seafood: safety, sustainability and authenticity."
The US Atlantic sea scallop fishery has been independently certified as sustainable by the MSC Fisheries Standard and Raw Seafoods aligns with the MSC Chain of Custody standard that promotes sustainable wild fish stocks. With immutable, geo-specific data shared through IBM Food Trust, fishing boats can now plan catches more strategically to meet demand.
Initial participants in the ecosystem include Santa Monica Seafoods, one of the largest seafood distributors in south-west USA. Restaurants including Taps Fish House & Brewery in Orange County, California, and Santa Monica Seafoods Market & Cafes will be among the first to serve scallops traced using Food Trust.
"These data will help us forge a more direct and fruitful partnership with the captains and crew that are harvesting the seafood we serve," said Tom Hope, director of food and beverage at Taps Fish House & Brewery. "Not only will the data help us be more strategic as a business, we think customers are going to love it."
Raw Seafoods also plans a consumer-facing app, connected directly to the Food Trust platform, which will allow consumers to access information about their scallops directly from the menu or point of sale in the retail locations by scanning a QR code.
Raw Seafoods is a family owned and operated company in Fall River, Massachusetts. It specialises in fresh and frozen scallops, fish and value-added food.