VEVEY, SWITZERLAND — Nestle is taking steps toward full transparency through a new collaboration with OpenSC, a blockchain platform that allows consumers to track their food all the way back to the farm.

Blockchain is a distributed database of digital records that allows information to be accessed but not copied or modified. Each record, or block, contains a time stamp and is linked to the block before it. As more data is added, the blocks form a chain. The technology is resistant to hacking or altering because information is not stored in a central location.

OpenSC has used this technology to develop a platform that gives consumers access to independently verifiable sustainability and supply chain data.

Nestle’s pilot program will trace milk from farms and producers in New Zealand to its factories and warehouses in the Middle East. The company said it plans to expand its use of the technology to palm oil sourced in the Americas.

“We want our consumers to make an informed decision on their choice of products — to choose products produced responsibly,” said Magdi Batato, executive vice-president, head of operations, Nestle S.A. “Open blockchain technology might allow us to share reliable information with consumers in an accessible way.”

Nestle has piloted blockchain technology since 2017. It was one of several major food manufacturers and retailers that partnered with IBM Food Trust in 2017 to explore how blockchain can improve the food ecosystem.

In April 2019, the company gave consumers access to blockchain data for the first time through Mousline puree in France. Through a partnership with Carrefour, consumers were able to follow the product from Nestle’s factory in northern France to Carrefour stores.

The recently announced partnership with OpenSC marks the first time consumers will be able trace their food all the way back to the farm using a blockchain platform.

“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, Nestle S.A.