Seventeen of Alibaba’s Hema supermarkets in Shanghai have launched a feature that tells customers about an item’s farm-to-store journey. This includes photos of the distributor’s business licences and food-safety certificates complete with an official government seal.
In-store customers use the Hema mobile app to scan a food’s QR code, which brings up the details. As the information lives on the product page of each item, those shopping from home via mobile app also have access to it.
Since the system was implemented in January, over 1,700 items in nine categories – including meat, seafood, rice, tofu and soy products, fruits, vegetables, poultry and eggs, dairy and cooking oil – have been included.
Food Trust Framework
Alibaba is also part of a consortium which has introduced a food tracing system based on blockchain technology.
The initiative, which includes two New Zealand-based companies, Fonterra and New Zealand Post, as well as Australia’s Blackmores and Australia Post, goes by the name of Food Trust Framework. It is using an immutable central ledger to achieve “end-to-end supply-chain traceability and transparency to enhance consumer confidence and build a trusted environment for cross-border trade,” according to a joint statement.
To do so, Alibaba’s Tmall Global marketplace incorporates various standards and controls to manage the supply chain process, including blockchain technology and product tagging with unique QR codes. The technologies will authenticate, verify, record and provide an ongoing ledger that is made public to report on the transfer of ownership and provision of products and goods.
This followed on from Alibaba’s announcement that it would collaborate with PricewaterhouseCoopers in Australia and New Zealand to implement a framework to ensure product authenticity and provide a trusted marketplace for consumers.
“Food fraud is a significant global challenge, particularly with the growing complexity of supply chains,” says Alvin Liu, General Manager of Tmall Import & Export. “In response, we have created a coordinated, world-leading and robust framework that involves stakeholders from across the supply chain to improve visibility and enhance the confidence of both consumers and merchants.”