Cargill is test-driving a digital tool called blockchain that structures data into a series of records that can’t be changed or removed. The cloud-based data can be shared across a network of computers, and securely added to by various participants.
Some food company executives say such records could be faster and simpler to use than the industry’s current framework, which relies on various software systems as well as paper records. Besides Cargill, other companies are also exploring blockchain technology to track foods or ingredients.
It is another example of the food world looking to adopt technologies honed in Silicon Valley and Wall Street, with the aim of making the sprawling U.S. food system more efficient. Agriculture companies such as Monsanto Co. and DowDuPont Inc. have spent hundreds of millions of dollars to acquire startups that crunch data sets to help farmers better manage crops and machinery.
The digital currency bitcoin was the first application built on blockchain, but the financial industry is also exploring it as a way to potentially trim billions of dollars in transaction and processing costs. It is also being evaluated for use managing health-care records and processing insurance claims.
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