California-based Golden State Foods (GSF) provides hamburger patties, sausage, produce and an array of other products to the food industry, retail outlets and quick service restaurants around the world. Its customers include 100 brands and, on any given day, its products are served to customers at 120,000 restaurants.
Food safety and quality are core to the company’s internal processes and brand reputation. But tracking exactly what happens to beef from farm to fork in near real-time is not easy for any company. The beef supply chain behind every hamburger is highly segmented, involving ranches, feedlots, packers, processors, distribution centers and restaurants.
Each business keeps its own meticulous records. Software systems designed to connect them, however, typically require a lot of manual inputs, are prone to errors, and encounter inherent delays. And those systems are not designed to track one of the most essential elements in the beef’s journey—the temperature at which it’s kept.
GSF partnered with IBM to pilot a solution that used radio-frequency identification (RFID) tags to automatically track fresh beef’s movement through one of its hamburger patty production plants to shipping, to the distribution center and finally delivery to one of three restaurants. IoT devices monitored the temperature at strategic points in the process, and automatically uploaded it to IBM Food Trust’s blockchain, making the data available in near-real time to everyone using it.
GSF’s pilot demonstrated the importance of improved precision and speed in the supply chain, including benefits such as reduction in shipping and labor costs, less waste, higher quality, and improved product rotation management and inventory optimization.