Walmart calls for food safety innovation proposals

Date: 04 Jun 2019

The Walmart Food Safety Collaboration Center officially launched the third round of the "Walmart Food Safety Innovation Pipeline" on May 30. The Innovation Pipeline is a unique initiative designed to generate new, creative ways to solve persistent and emerging issues in food safety through technology.

Each year, the Innovation Pipeline brings together key actors from across the value chain to identify critical food safety issues and bring out fresh thinking. The Innovation Pipeline ultimately aims to fast-track the most promising solutions by testing them in the real-world supply chains of Walmart and its partners.

The food supply chain is increasingly globalized, expanding the variety of available products for consumers but also leading to longer and more complex supply chains. Stakeholders along the supply chain all encounter their own unique set of challenges, while consumers want to gain a better understanding of and trust their sources of food.

As stated by Will Watts, Senior Director of the WFSCC: "The food supply chain is a complex system where a mistake anywhere can jeopardize the safety of the whole. We hope to reduce such risks by exploring new technologies in food production, logistics, retail and last-mile delivery. Through technology, we can digitally shrink the distance between nodes of the supply chain, advance transparency and empower consumers.

To address these issues, round three of the pipeline will focus on supply chain insights that advance transparency and improve food safety from farm to fork. Seeking both domestic and overseas innovators, the Innovation Pipeline aims to use technology to enhance the collection, interpretation and communication of key supply chain information for greater food safety.

The pipeline aims to improve food safety through collaboration and innovation. The WFSCC has established an "Innovation Council", composed of industry leaders from food and beverage, retail, logistics, startup incubators and venture capital to assess projects. Members of the Innovation Council not only provide guidance on the pipeline's direction, but also provide mentorship to finalists and participate in offline activities such as exclusive tours of operations for program finalists.

During the final event, the "Innovation Draft Day", council members will evaluate project proposals based on relevance, creativity, market readiness and economic and social impact. Selected finalists will be given the opportunity to pilot their technologies with Walmart and the Innovation Pipeline's partners.

Shen Qiang, CTO and founding partner of Jiangmen and a member of the Innovation Council, believes the council has gathered experts from various industries who can provide systematic and comprehensive insights for emerging and established companies.

Walmart and the enterprises within the Walmart ecosystem can provide a real-world supply chain for testing various food safety technologies, which makes the pipeline a great testing platform for innovative companies. Meanwhile, the pipeline can also provide a point of entry for startups by providing access to its vast and valuable network of industry resources.

Another Innovation Council member, Yvonne Cao, General Director of Manufacturing and R&D for the Want Want Group, also praised the Innovation Pipeline's capacity to integrate resources across the supply chain. She is confident better food safety solutions will be made possible through the joint efforts of investors, manufacturers, retailers, logistic providers and startups.

Since its launch in 2017, the Innovation Pipeline has successfully organized two rounds. More than 70 proposals were gathered from various fields, covering topics including cold chain management, sustainable packaging, product traceability and rapid testing. All participating enterprises received careful guidance from Innovation Council experts, with some winning projects earning the opportunity to cooperate with Walmart China on pilot projects or explore further business opportunities.

Shenzhen ZKS Mobile IOT Tech Co Ltd was among the winners of Round 2 with its "Multiple Wireless Temperature and Humidity Monitoring Solution" using low energy consumption IOT technology known as ZKS interBow. The company's chief operating officer Xiang Junhua said: "Through the Innovation Pipeline, startups have the opportunity to directly reach industry clients, investors and users, and receive immediate feedback. This is helpful to continuously improve products and adjust marketing and financing strategies."

Another Round 2 winner, Laurel Nano-Synthetic Material (Jiangsu) Co Ltd, also gained wide recognition through the Innovation Pipeline. General Manager Jin Hongzhou said: "The Innovation Pipeline has greatly increased our company's recognition. In addition, we also successfully completed a one-month pilot with Walmart and are now part of Walmart's supplier system. We've already launched our products into the market and they have been well-received."

Yan Zhinong, executive director of the WFSCC, was delighted to witness the commercial success achieved by previous participants, saying: "I am happy to see more and more innovative projects are achieving market success by participating in the Innovation Pipeline. More importantly, past winners have brought a positive impact to the food industry and have improved food safety through technological innovation. We initiated the pipeline to bring together resources from all parts of the supply chain to promote innovation and enhance food safety. The diverse innovative solutions collected will not only be applied to Walmart's operations, but also benefit the entire industry."

Source: China Daily

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