INDIA – American eCommerce and retail firm, Walmart is piloting block chain technology for end-to-end traceability of shrimp sourced in Andhra Pradesh, south-eastern India.

Walmart says that the pilot project will help to track seafood exports sourced from the state and shipped to select Sam’s Club locations in the United States.

The retailer said that the project will ultimately help seafood farmers in the region strengthen the shrimp supply chain and reinforce customer trust in the product. Shrimp is India’s largest seafood export, with the US as its largest market.

“The pilot project is the first known use of blockchain to track shrimp exports from the farmer in India to an overseas retailer.

“It will help promote India as a preferred source of seafood, while also enhancing food traceability and transparency for consumers in the US,” Walmart said in a  statement.

Walmart is working with AP-based seafood processor Sandhya Aqua and US-based supplier Stanley Pearlman Enterprises to add the shrimp supply chain to the blockchain-enabled IBM Food Trust.

“This end-to-end blockchain pilot is the first of its kind in India and has the potential to create long-term economic opportunity for the shrimp farming community in AP,” said Chowdary Kunam, MD, Sandhya Aqua.

This new blockchain pilot supplements an extensive Sam’s Club food safety program that requires suppliers of seafood products, including shrimp, to complete prevention-based certifications like Best Aquaculture Practice (BAP), an internationally recognised standard.

To support smallholder farmers in Andhra Pradesh, Walmart provided funding for the BAP certification training, helping farmers access market opportunities they may not previously have had.

“We’re committed to doing business in India in a way that helps drive economic opportunity in local communities across the country,” said Paul Dyck, vice president of corporate affairs for Walmart Inc.

“Through this pilot, we are working with our partners and leveraging our global strengths to provide access to blockchain’s innovative technology which will benefit local farmers and producers, help to transform the food system, and also provide a quality product that delights our customers and members.”

Walmart has collaborated with IBM on the use of blockchain technology to enhance global food traceability since 2017.

The two partners have already launched several initiatives to strengthen food safety in the fresh produce supply chain.

“The possibility of transforming the seafood community with blockchain technology exists and organisations need to do the work to test its potential to optimise supply chain processes,” said John Connelly, president of the National Fisheries Institute in the US.

“As one of the most traded commodities in the world, seafood has a complex and wide-reaching supply chain, which makes testing and further developing technology-assisted traceability programs an important step.

“It is encouraging to see a retail leader like Walmart participate in seafood blockchain testing.”