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Using blockchain to ensure olive oil really is extra virgin

Photo courtesy of CHO
Photo courtesy of CHO

Large olive oil producer CHO is using IBM's food blockchain to allow customers to track their oil — from the orchard where the olives are grown, through the mill where they are crushed, to the facilities where the oil is filtered and bottled.

Why it matters: Assuring food safety and quality seems to be one of the most compelling uses for the much-hyped technology.

  • CHO is starting with its Terra Delyssa brand, beginning with its most recent harvest. Customers can scan a QR code to get the information on their olives.

The big picture: Olive oil, in particular, has had major issues around provenance and quality, as detailed compellingly in Tom Mueller's book "Extra Virginity: The Sublime and Scandalous World of Olive Oil" (which I happen to be reading).

Yes, but: Putting the information on the blockchain makes it decentralized and immutable, but doesn't guarantee the data is good in the first place. To do that, CHO relies on its own testing plus a third-party analysis performed on every lot of oil produced.

Our thought bubble: I get a ton of pitches touting blockchain, usually resulting in a good eye roll. But tracking and assuring the provenance of foods and medicines has always struck me as one of the more compelling uses.

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