Walmart has announced plans to spend $25 million promoting food safety in China.

The retail giant has launched the Walmart Food Safety Collaboration Center (WFSCC) with a celebration at the Westin Financial Street hotel in Beijing. The Center brings together food safety experts and stakeholders to promote a collaborative approach to improving food safety in China.

With the WFSCC, Walmart is set to bring some of the world’s leading food safety innovation to China. The Center will target several areas, including research focused on analyzing root causes of food borne illness, and developing scalable solutions that can be made available to the entire food supply chain across China.

Walmart and the Walmart Foundation plan to invest $25 million in funding over five years to support research projects in applied science, education, and communications that enhance Chinese food safety.

“By bringing together the best food safety thinkers from across the food ecosystem, from farmers to suppliers, retailers to policy regulators, we’ll accelerate food safety awareness and help make Chinese families safer and healthier,” says Doug McMillon, CEO of Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. “Walmart is honored to help facilitate this collaboration.”

Frank Yiannas, vice president of Global Food Safety at Walmart and special advisor to the WFSCC, says collaboration is an essential element of food safety.

“To improve national health, each participant in the ‘farm-to-fork’ supply chain, including farmers, distributors, suppliers and retailers, needs to take an active role,” Yiannas says. "Through the work of the Center, we hope to strengthen a strong and vibrant food safety culture throughout the entire food system in China and positively influence safe food behaviors among all stakeholders to better protect consumers.”

The WFSCC will act as a connector and a focal point to bring together local and international research and expertise, helping to identify issues that are unique to the fast-growing Chinese economy and China’s changing food consumption habits.

The WFSCC has received widespread support from both public and private sector stakeholders in China. The Center is working with the China Children and Teenagers’ Fund, as well as private actors including IBM, Hainan Group, Fujian Shengnong Food Company ltd., New Hope Liuhe Co. ltd., Guangzhou Jiangfeng Industry Co. ltd. and iSoftStone. Today’s inaugural launch was jointly sponsored by the China Council for the Promotion of International Trade (CCPIT) and AmCham China.

“Food safety is a global issue that no country can solve alone,” says Kathleen McLaughlin, Walmart’s Chief Sustainability officer and president of the Walmart Foundation. “We hope that the projects supported through the WFSCC can engage diverse stakeholders in developing effective solutions across China. We’re pleased this collaborative effort has received strong support from organizations around the globe, and we look forward to being part of the international partnerships that will help reduce the burden of food-borne illness.”

Specifically, at the event, the Walmart Foundation announced the funding of three projects which support the spirit and the mission of the WFSCC:

  1. An initiative with CCTF focused on educating children and parents across China by increasing knowledge of safe handling of food in the household.
  2. A collaborative research project bringing together U.S. and Chinese academics (from University of Arkansas, South China Agricultural University, China Agriculture University, Zhejiang University, and Zhejiang Academy of Agricultural Sciences) and Chinese poultry producers (Fujian Shengnong Food Company ltd., New Hope Liuhe Co. ltd., Guangzhou Jiangfeng Industry Co. ltd.) to study safety in poultry supply chains.
  3. A collaborative research project bringing together the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Zhejiang University and Tsinghua University that will use supply chain analytics and state-of-the-art technology to rapidly predict and detect those areas of greatest vulnerability for food adulteration in food supply chains.

The WFSCC has already initiated projects with institutions promoting household education on improved food safety practices and academic capacity building, and has an ongoing collaboration with IBM on food traceability leveraging IBM Blockchain technology to securely and transparently track and authenticate food as it moves to consumers' plates.