Dole Food Company, the world’s largest producer of fruit and vegetables, has revealed a five-year plan to expand its adoption of distributed ledger technology, or DLT, for supply chain tracking.

Dole’s blockchain expansion was announced in its 2020 Corporate Responsibility and Sustainability Report.

Dole first began to explore DLT after joining IBM’s Food Trust as a founding member in 2017.

Dole to launch DLT tracing in all divisions by 2025

The report announces that Dole will comprehensively overhaul its food tracing systems, including the goal of integrating blockchain-based product-tagging and advanced traceability solutions into all of its divisions by 2025.

Dole already utilizes blockchain throughout its supply chain for salads and fresh vegetables, and has shared its data with select retail customers since 2019.

“Blockchain cuts the average time needed for food safety investigations from weeks to mere seconds,” states Dole.

“Produce that’s been logged via blockchain can be instantly tracked back through the supply chain, giving retailers and consumers confidence in the event of a recall,” the report adds.

Food producers trial consumer-facing QR-code scanning

The report states that security measures are built into the system to prevent retailers participating in its blockchain program from exposing valuable proprietary information to other entities in the network.

Dole also announced plans to launch a consumer-facing feature allowing shoppers to scan each package of salad or vegetables to access detailed information recorded across the product’s supply chain:

“Eventually, consumers will be able to scan each bag of salad or package of vegetables in-store to get information about its journey from farm to store shelf.” 

On April 6, fellow-IBM food trust member, Nestlé, announced it would expand its use of DLT to print QR codes on the packaging for its premium coffee brand, Zoégas. Consumers can now trace select blends back to farms and roasters in Brazil, Rwanda, and Colombia.

Ethical egg producer, Farmer’s Hen House, launched a similar program in partnership with blockchain food tracing firm, Bytable. They began printing QR-codes on egg cartons in mid-April that allow consumers to trace the origin of their eggs.