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Nestlé reveals open blockchain supply chain pilot

Nestlé says it’s breaking new ground in supply chain transparency through a collaboration with OpenSC – an blockchain platform that allows consumers to track their food right back to the farm.

Through this collaboration, Nestlé becomes the first major food and beverage company to announce that it will pilot open blockchain technology in this way. This is part of Nestlé’s journey towards full transparency.

Founded by WWF-Australia and The Boston Consulting Group Digital Ventures, OpenSC has developed a platform that will give anyone, anywhere access to independently verifiable sustainability and supply chain data.

The initial pilot program will trace milk from farms and producers in New Zealand to Nestlé factories and warehouses in the Middle East. Later, the technology will be tested using palm oil sourced in the Americas. These pilots will allow Nestlé to understand how scalable the system is. 

Magdi Batato, Executive Vice President, Head of Operations, Nestlé S.A. said, “We want our consumers to make an informed decision on their choice of products – to choose products produced responsibly. Open blockchain technology might allow us to share reliable information with consumers in an accessible way.”

Nestlé has piloted blockchain technology since 2017, most prominently with IBM Food Trust. In April, it gave consumers access to blockchain data for the first time, through Mousline purée in France

“This open blockchain technology will allow anyone, anywhere in the world to assess our responsible sourcing facts and figures,” said Benjamin Ware, Global Head of Responsible Sourcing, Nestlé S.A.

“We believe it is another important step towards the full disclosure of our supply chains announced by Nestlé in February this year, raising the bar for transparency and responsible production globally,” Benjamin Ware added.

Nestlé and XPO Logistics building ‘digital warehouse of the future’

Nestlé and XPO Logistics are co-creating a 638,000-square-foot distribution centre at the new SEGRO East Midlands Gateway Logistics Park in Leicestershire.

The facility, described as a ‘digital warehouse of the future’, will be occupied predominantly by Nestlé for its consumer packaged goods and will function as a testbed environment for XPO technology prototypes prior to global release.

The custom-designed distribution centre, scheduled to complete in 2020, will feature advanced sorting systems and robotics alongside state-of-the-art automation co-developed with Swisslog Logistics Automation.

Nestlé says the site’s digital ecosystem will integrate predictive data and intelligent machines to deliver one of the most advanced distribution management centres in the world, handling KitKat, Maggi, Nescafé and other brands.

The facility will be located in the Midlands to benefit from direct access to the M1 motorway for road transport, the East Midlands Airport for cargo flights, and an onsite rail freight terminal with direct access to the major UK ports of Southampton, Felixstowe, London Gateway and the Channel Tunnel.

The facility will be sited on man-made plateaus, with landscaping to minimise the visual impact to nearby settlements. Additional sustainability measures include energy-saving LED lighting, environmentally friendly ammonia refrigeration, air source heat pumps for administration areas and rainwater harvesting.

Nestlé Director of Supply Chain David Hix said: “We are thrilled to be working with XPO Logistics to build a flagship digital warehouse and technology laboratory at the East Midlands Gateway Logistics Park. This is a world-first investment for Nestlé that builds on a century and a half of proud history in this country. Our partnership with XPO will encourage innovation and experimentation in our UK logistics operations and help futureproof our business. We will be able to be even more responsive for our customers across our brands, which include some of the most recognisable in the world.”

Richard Cawston, Managing Director, Supply Chain, XPO Logistics Europe, said: “Nestlé has entrusted XPO with the digital architecture for its future vision. Together, we will create limitless opportunities to explore new technologies in a state-of-the-art logistics environment. The new East Midlands centre will operate as both a think tank and a launch pad for XPO innovations, with far-reaching impacts on the way business is done. We look forward to an inventive collaboration with Nestlé.”

Andrew Bridgen, MP for North West Leicestershire, said: “This is excellent news for North West Leicestershire and the wider East Midlands economy. That two global giants – Nestlé and XPO – should choose to locate their new state-of-the-art, environmentally sustainable facility here shows that this region is a great place for businesses to invest. It’s very positive for the development of our local economy.”