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Wal-Mart pilot programs tracks food

by Robbie Neiswanger | June 3, 2017 at 1:01 a.m. | Updated June 3, 2017 at 1:01 a.m.

Frank Yiannas, Wal-Mart's vice president of food safety, said the company has recently wrapped up its pilot program using blockchain technology to track the way food moves through the supply chain.

A blockchain is a digital, distributed ledger used to record transactions securely. Wal-Mart partnered with IBM to develop ledgers to track mangos in the U.S. and pork in China as part of the pilot program.

With the blockchain ledgers, the time to track a product's trip through each step of the supply chain was trimmed from days to seconds, according to a demonstration Thursday. Wal-Mart believes the ledger could be beneficial in a number of ways, helping to improve efficiency and reduce the risk of fraud in the food supply chain.

"We're pretty excited about it and so is the leadership of Wal-Mart," Yiannas said. "We're contacting other stakeholders and other retailers ... to ask them to join us on this food traceability, solution journey. Our intentions are to scale it."


Wal-Mart shone the spotlight on its employees during shareholders week, saying the company's success wouldn't be possible without its 2.3 million workers worldwide. But some U.S. employees, with the backing of labor groups, believe the company should be doing more to support them.

Making Change at Walmart, a campaign funded by the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union, spent the week in Northwest Arkansas urging the retailer to improve its treatment of workers. Representatives have participated in a bus tour that has traveled the country since May 15 and arrived in Northwest Arkansas this week.

The group has highlighted Anthony Leal, a full-time employee, as part of its campaign. Leal has been with the company five years and earns $11.53 an hour, according to a news release.

"Wal-Mart claims the 'average wage' for full time hourly employees is $13.75, yet the real stories of workers around the country show that many of them, like Anthony, are paid so little that they rely on government assistance programs to survive," according to a press release from the campaign.


Wal-Mart believes incorporating music into its advertising campaign has been successful with consumers.

"We've made a conscious decision to really invest in the brand, build for the long term and try to use our advertising to build deep emotional relationship with the customer," U.S. chief marketing officer Tony Rogers said. "If I show you an ad, it fills up the screen. But when you hear it, music fills the whole room."

Some of the songs Wal-Mart has incorporated into recent advertisements that have appeared on both television and across digital platforms include Dream On by Aerosmith, My House by Flo Rida, and All I Do Is Win by DJ Khaled. Rogers said the response by customers to the campaign has been positive over the past year so the efforts will continue.

"We'll build this over the coming months and years," Rogers said. "We're excited for the first time in a long time we've got a type, style, approach, that is unique to us."


Wal-Mart anticipates selling $25 million worth of flashlight sneakers -- shoes which have LED lights wrapped around the soles -- this year, according to chief marketing officer Steve Bratspies.

Bratspies showed off the shoes during the meeting with U.S employees Wednesday. The company also showcased them during a media preview of products Thursday.

"It's a huge trend we're betting on this year," Bratspies said.

NW News on 06/03/2017

Print Headline: Wal-Mart pilot programs tracks food


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