Scallops on the blockchain as IBM & Raw Seafoods boost traceability

Scallops on the blockchain as IBM & Raw Seafoods boost traceability
Scallops being processed at the Raw Seafoods facility in Fall River, Massachusetts

Raw Seafoods is the latest company to begin using the blockchain-powered IMB Food Trust platform in a collaboration intended to enhance seafood traceability.

Built on the IBM Blockchain Platform, the initiative will start by digitising the supply chain for scallops sourced from the Atlantic Sea Scallop Fishery.

Beginning this week, a fleet of scallopers owned by Capt. Danny Eilertsen of New Bedford, MA, will begin uploading data about their catch onto the platform, enabling distributors and retailers to identify exactly when and where a given lot of scallops was harvested.

The platform will also track when the boat landed portside, and when each scallop lot was hand graded, selected, packed and shipped to its final destination.

This information – alongside images and video – is uploaded via satellite while still offshore. Once uploaded, the information is then available to permissioned parties, including distributors, suppliers, retailers and their customers at point of sale.

The technology will address several problems that many in the industry believe explain why between 80 and 90% of Americans eat less than the recommended allotment of seafood.

From widespread seafood fraud and mislabelling to the simple fact that roughly 80% of the seafood in the US is imported, few consumers know where their seafood actually comes from.

From a sustainability standpoint, the data gathered and stored on blockchain can help fishing boats source more strategically, providing boat owners a direct connection to the “last mile” in the distribution channels.

Rajendra Rao, General Manager of IBM Food Trust, said: “Traditionally, tracing the origin of a given food product could take days, if it was possible at all, especially for wild caught sea scallops.

“By reducing that time frame to a matter of seconds, we’re able to solve three of the core consumer concerns that deter them from enjoying seafood: safety, sustainability and authenticity.”

Initial participants in the new ecosystem include Santa Monica Seafoods, one of the largest seafood distributors in the Southwest.

Restaurants including TAPS Fish House and Brewery in Orange County, CA and Santa Monica Seafoods Market & Cafes will be among the first to serve scallops traced using Food Trust.

Raw Seafoods also plans a consumer-facing app, connected directly to the Food Trust platform, which will allow consumers to access information about their scallops directly from the menu or point of sale in the retail locations by scanning a QR code.