Nestlé, the world’s biggest food producer, is taking a bold step to try and pioneer a path into using the full potential of public blockchains. The food producer has teamed up with OpenSC to pilot public blockchain.
Since significant companies and corporations have started taking blockchain seriously, they have mostly gone the safer road. Permissioned, private blockchain solutions, usually engineered by IBM, Hyperledger, AWS, and Microsoft, have been snapped up en masse.
The advantages of a private, permissioned blockchain for companies worth billions of dollars is clear and distinct. Their data and information cannot be available to absolutely everyone, and total decentralisation leaves them feeling too much out of control.
At the same time, this preferred usage of private blockchain also hinders the potential for such large companies who want to get the most out of this technology. Still, because the technology, and the usage of such in the enterprise space, is still so young, it is understandable.
That is until now. Having already joined IBM’s Food Trust, and reaped much reward and information there, Nestle has realised that they can hit some crucial targets should they manage to deploy public blockchain usage in their supply chain successfully.
Nestlé know that they can achieve their goals of transparency to the public by using a permissionless blockchain, but they can also be the leaders in this field for companies on a similar magnitude as them. This could re-shape the entire way blockchain is adopted going forward.
For the glory
A company like Nestlé is clearly at the top of the pile when it comes to its industry. However, they only got there by being forward-thinking and innovative. For companies dealing with food production, one big part of the business is the supply chain.
It is for this reason that Nestlé was one of the first companies to be involved in IBM’s Food Trust, which was working to implement blockchain into supply chain dynamics.
Benjamin Dubois Blockchain lead and digital transformation manager at Nestlé, explains how the company first got involved through IBM and the FoodTrust.
“We were looking for solutions to digitise out the supply chain, and at about the same time, we saw the Food Trust with IBM and what they were doing,” explained Dubois. “We discussed with IBM, and Walmart, which is a key customer, and they said, ‘well, join the effort, it is what we want to do, it is what you want to do, so let’s join the industry effort’, and that is why we joined food trust as a foundational member.”
However, now a few years down the line, and Nestle believes they have seen the benefits of the Trust, but also its limitations. It is for this reason they are looking to add a new public blockchain to their supply chain protocol.
Benjamin Ware, manager of Responsible Sourcing, at Nestle, admits that the company is excited to be one of the more significant enterprises trying to pioneer a successful shift towards public blockchain’s on this large scale.
“Most of the companies have been trialing blockchain, but they have been quite shy and have been avoiding getting in too deep into the public blockchain,” Ware said. “It is really about breaking the ice, that is precisely what we want, we want to be the public blockchain pioneers for enterprises.
“We believe that it’s not just Nestle that has the power to transform this entire industry, we need everyone to do the same, this means trying to make things work between different companies and different commodities.”
Changing the entire industry
Nestlé is clear that they are not abandoning Food Trust and the idea of a private blockchain, but they feel that the usage of a public blockchain is severely underutilised in the enterprise space. Having the option to be agile and use public blockchain for ultimate transparency can help them, and others, to reach new goals.
On the blockchain side of things, there has been this great dividing line between those who value private blockchains, and those who do not. If Nestle was to be successful in its pilot and prove the value of public blockchains in enterprise usage, their adoption could skyrocket.
If more and more large enterprises enter the public blockchain space, then the decentralised aims of the technology may well start to come to full fruition, and centralised control of this technology may slip away.