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The Beginning of KPMG Origins

KPMG, a global accounting and professional services firm based in Amstelveen, Netherlands, has been piloting a blockchain solution for the past six months, and executives at the company say that they’re starting to see quantifiable results. “The most suitable use cases in our observations are the ones that we can demonstrate measurable results for,” says Laszlo Peter, head of blockchain services Asia Pacific at KPMG Australia. He shares a few examples without giving actual figures or participants’ names: “Reduce waste by x percent by optimizing the value chain. Extend shelf life by x days with traceable temperature and humidity measurements for a high-margin SKU. Trace a product recall to a specific location and avoid having to dump the whole stock.” KPMG Origins is the company’s fully managed blockchain platform that includes governance and integration infrastructure for third-party solutions like enterprise resource planning or Internet of Things solutions. “Specific for supermarkets, we have completed a prototype using a rock melon recalled for a listeria outbreak,” says Peter. “We are also working on a cold-chain automation for product shelf-life extension and waste reduction, and we have a fully integrated ‘smart crate’ solution for fresh food that can track and trace fresh food assets from farm to packing sheds/ripening facilities and distribution centers, all the way to retail shelves.” Peter notes that some specific challenges have surfaced during the pilots. For one, there are “always information gaps with multiparty participation,” he explains, so KPMG had to design alternatives in some cases. In addition, the company had to spend a lot of time setting up a governance structure and designing rules of engagement for multiparty collaboration.

Topco’s Seafood Tracker

Elk Grove Village, Ill.-based food cooperative Topco Associates began testing a new blockchain solution from Purchase, N.Y.-based Mastercard last fall, following its decision a year earlier to join IBM Food Trust. Food City, one of Topco’s members, is initially using Mastercard’s blockchain-based Provenance Solution in tandem with Envisible’s Wholechain traceability system to provide better visibility into the ethical sourcing and environmental compliance of the seafood selection at its stores, including salmon, cod and shrimp to start. Dan Glei, EVP of merchandising and marketing at Food City, which is owned and operated by Abingdon, Va.-based K-VA-T,

More and more, consumers are demanding an understanding of the origins of the food they eat to make more informed purchasing decisions.” —Deborah Barta, Mastercard


Farmer Connect's Thank My Farmer app lets consumers financially support sustainability projects in the regions where their coffee was produced.

noted in a press release that the solution will help the grocer “pinpoint issues in the food chain during any unfortunate events such as recalls.” But the technology has an added bonus, as some of the same farm-to-fork information being captured for business needs can be shared on the consumer end. Deborah Barta, Mastercard’s SVP of innovation and startup engagement, says that her company collaborated with Envisible, a Bloomfield Hills, Mich.-based company that enables supply chain visibility in food systems, to address consumer demand for more transparency. “More and more, consumers are demanding an understanding of the origins of the food they eat to make more informed purchasing decisions,” she explains. According to Barta, the solution is now live in Food City’s supply chain for seafood, and is on track to roll out to grocery stores during the first quarter of 2020. Consumers will be able to scan the QR code of the product at the counter with a mobile phone’s camera, which will then prompt a browser link that allows them to explore the journey of the items they’re purchasing, all the way back to the fisherman.

From Crop to Cup

While seafood seems like an obvious choice for blockchain, due to concerns over country of origin and counterfeit products, nonperishable products are also showing promise in pilots. Farmer Connect SA, based in Vernier, Switzerland, recently launched a mobile app powered by IBM Blockchain specifically with the coffee market in mind. “There are fascinating, human stories behind how coffee is being produced, and this information is getting lost,” explains D.J. Bodden, COO of Farmer Connect. “We’d like it to become normal that when you walk in a store and buy a bag of coffee or tea or chocolate, that you be able to have a connection with the producer and the reality behind the supply chain.” Farmer Connect developed the app with an impressive number of coffee players, including Beyers Koffie, the Colombian Coffee Growers Federation, J.M. Smucker Co. and RGC Coffee, just to name a few. Bodden notes that today’s tech-savvy consumers, often with smartphones in hand, are more curious than ever about where their coffee comes from. Providing such information to customers can help create differentiation between brands and even between different