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From tracking virtual tokens to containers of fresh produce

IBM uses technology behind bitcoin to create blockchain, helping companies keep track of their shipments

New York

FRANK Yiannas has spent years looking in vain for a better way to track lettuce, steaks and snack cakes from farm and factory to the shelves of Wal-Mart, where he is the vice-president for food safety.

When the company dealt with salmonella outbreaks, it often took weeks to trace where the bad ingredients came from.

Last year, IBM executives flew to Wal-Mart's headquarters in Arkansas to propose a solution: blockchain.

Mr Yiannas said of their pitch: "I became increasingly convinced that maybe we were onto the holy grail."

The blockchain - the buzzy, bewildering technology behind cryptocurrencies like bitcoin - is starting to be applied to real-world problems like tracking pork chops, shipping...

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