Where's the Beef? Chinese Retailer Using Blockchain to Track Meat Sales

Retailers are taking notice of the benefits that blockchain may offer in streamlining operations and improving product quality due to greater logistical transparency in supply chains. Last week Walmart filed a patent for blockchain-based shipping solutions that would help to monitor locations, shipping trucks, and even regulate temperatures to ensure perishable food products make it to their end-destination with quality still meeting high standards. Now, Chinese retailer JD.com will be following suit and utilizing blockchain to track logistics around meat sales.

Consumers are increasingly aware of the food that they put into their bodies, opting for organically grown food and avoiding food raised with antibiotics and hormones, which are often found in various types of meat. The meat industry is especially plagued with this, due to livestock living conditions requiring antibiotics to prevent loss and farmers using hormones to increase profits due to lean body mass gain in livestock. 

JD’s plans, however, will allow customers to see where their meat came from the moment it leaves the farm, until it reaches their door. JD aims for greater transparency, and customers will be able to see data on how the livestock was raised, how the meat was butchered, packaged, and ultimately transported to the customer.

The tracking system, which JD hopes to launch later this spring, is in thanks to a partnership with Australia-based HW Greenham & Sons Pty Ltd., known for being a large-scale beef supplier.

"Consumers in China don't just want quality imported products, they want to know that they can trust how and where their food is sourced, and blockchain helps us deliver this peace of mind,” said, JD’s Chief Technology Offer Chen Zhang. Zhang adds that customers will have peace of mind knowing that their purchases are "safe, reliable products for their families.”

Blockchain has many use cases, which various industries are hard at work in figuring out. The food industry has a lot to gain from improving customer satisfaction through greater transparency and increasing quality through better monitored supply chains. It is an arms race now to see which retailers will be able to successfully implement blockchain technology.