News by Forbes: Benjamin Pirus
In the fall of 2018, leading shelf-stable seafood provider Bumble Bee Foods began utilizing blockchain technology to track products all the way through its supply chain. The brand has seen significant success from harnessing the abilities housed within the cutting edge technology.
“We’ve had nothing but overwhelming positive feedback from the industry and retailers,” Bumble Bee Foods senior vice-president and CIO Tony Costa told me in an interview.
As a top provider of shelf-stable seafood in North America, Bumble Bee produces products such as canned tuna, salmon and clams. The company also works with frozen goods. “Part of this project is [an] extension of our company. We have another frozen piece of our business called Anova, which we do most of our procurement and resourcing through Asia, mainly out of Indonesia,” Costa said. “The blockchain project has focused around the handline fisheries in Indonesia,” he noted. The project is underway for Bumble Bee’s Natural Blue line, which is part of its Anova brand.
Bumble Bee’s blockchain incorporation uses the technology to track its products from fishers to end consumers, ensuring aspects such as data accuracy and tracking all the way through the supply chain. The beef and grain industries saw similar blockchain application for supply chain with BeefChain and GrainChain.
Diving down the blockchain rabbit hole in September 2018, Bumble Bee Foods partnered with the software company SAP, Costa mentioned. “We had a pilot up and running in December, and we were [in] full production by the very beginning of February 2019,” he added.
February’s launch involved “putting QR codes on the back of packages,” as well as automating “the implementation of the data into the blockchain […] for an entire handline yellowfin tuna supply chain in Indonesia,” Costa said.
This is productive. This is not a pilot. We’re not testing the waters. This is [a] real, live, in-production solution.”
Resounding Success And Future Opportunities
Bumble Bee has seen notable success across the board as a result of its work with blockchain. On the customer side, buyers can scan a QR code on the packaging and find details such as the location and method of that fish’s capture, Costa explained. “From that aspect, it’s been a great implementation, very successful.”
Regarding further opportunity, Costa noted substantial future potential resulting from the amount of detailed data and information that is available when using blockchain. “It’s a treasure trove of information,” he said.
When you think about the supply chain – from the fisher all the way to the finished good – historically, that’s been a one-way direction of information […] The fisher sells it to the buyer, the buyer takes it to the processing plant and so forth. All that information about that fish and the catch in the supply chain goes one way, but it never comes back. Now with the implementation of the blockchain and everything is on the SAP cloud, we have an incredibly impactful dashboard that we’re starting to roll out to our suppliers and key strategic partners within the supply chain.”
Costa described many other examples of different instances in which certain data, available via blockchain, might be applicable. “We’re just scratching the surface of the capabilities around all the data that we’re collecting,” Costa said.
He stated that the project so far “has been a home run.” Although, he added, “We really need to focus on how we’re going to leverage the power of this platform going forward. It’s an incredible opportunity for us.”