French retailer Carrefour SA has found that using QR codes (a tracking system based on blockchain technology) and enabling consumers to track the provenance of products has boosted sales of those products. 

Carrefour launched the digital tracking for 20 items (including chicken, pork, eggs, oranges, milk and cheese) and has said it will soon expand the list to over 100 items, including non-food lines such as clothing. Customers can scan a QR bar code with their phones and be provided with detailed information on the origins of the product, animal care, where it was packed or picked, and if it subject to any genetically modified organisms, antibiotics or pesticides.

Carrefour's blockchain project manager, Emmanuel Delerm, commented “the blockchain initiative has proved most popular so far in China, where it is already common for shoppers to scan QR codes, followed by Italy and France, with some people spending as long as 90 seconds reading the provenance information". 

While Carrefour has been focusing on using QR codes on its own branded products, it has also been collaboration with Nestle in relation to its Mousline potato puree product, so that customers can confirm it is made only from French potatoes.  

It is not just Carrefour which is using QR codes and blockchain technology to allow customers to get detailed information about the products being sold. Alibaba is trialing a project with four dairy and delivery companies in Australia and New Zealand with the intention to build a “Food Trust Framework”. has partnered with IBM and Walmart to trace food supplies from farms to stores using blockchain.

As blockchain technology is proving an efficient means for improving transparency and, importantly, increasing sales, we can expect to see further applications by both on and off-line retailers.