This week, businesses, governmental and regulatory bodies and industry investors have shown a heightened interest in scientific traceability for food as a way of protecting businesses, brands and consumers from fraud. This international show of support for the objective of revolutionising supply chain security signals an important raise of awareness of the global issue, which poses risks to the health and safety of consumers and the future of businesses in the food and beverage industry.
The market for scientific verification of the integrity of products (and their increasingly global supply chains) has been on the rise in recent years. Meat products, more than most other foods, have come under intense scrutiny by regulatory bodies and consumers. In fact, the market value of meat speciation testing is expected to exceed US$2 billion by 2022, an increase driven by religious beliefs, compliance with labelling laws, stringent regulations and consumer demand for certified products and an increase in food fraud cases globally, according to Food Safety Tech.
This comes as no surprise to retailers, manufacturers and food service companies whose operations are vulnerable to an ever-broadening variety of fraudulent practices. A report by Securing Industry concludes that, in light of this concerning trend, governments “must do a better job to support the central role that intellectual property plays in driving innovation, development and jobs”.
Seafood, like meat, is one of the most fraud-ridden industries in the world, often mislabelled for economic gain and sourced in developing countries where workers are inadequately paid for their labour. To achieve goals relating to the elimination of modern slavery, sustainable and ethical sourcing and supply chain integrity, businesses in the seafood industry must be particularly vigilant, and make an investment in the future.
FishWise’s latest edition of their Advancing Traceability in the Seafood Industry report explains that investing resources in traceability improvements now will help companies protect brand value, build consumer trust, identify risk areas in supply chains and demonstrate leadership in this growing field.
“The first step towards mitigating and eventually eliminating risks is to ensure end-to-end, electronic, interoperable traceability systems are in place throughout the supply chain,” said FishWise.
In light of food fraud scandals around the world, there has been a spike in food fraud complaints in Canada, according to the Canadian Food Inspection Agency. CTV News explains that the increase in whistleblowing incidences – where mislabelling or product adulteration has occurred and been reported – has prompted the Canadian federal government to crack down, and investigations at state level have been launched in Ontario and B.C.
The food fraud probe has already led to the discovery of regulatory offences by Mucci Farms, including mislabelling tomatoes imported from Mexico as ‘Product of Canada’.
While governments and regulators are driving much of this momentum in the fight against food fraud, it is clear that consumers also play an important role.
Dennis Clabby, Executive Vice President of the Independent Purchasing Cooperative, explains that part of this industry shift has been consumer-driven.
“Consumer demand for increased transparency and information about the food they consume is at an all-time high, so industry is laser focused on improving data quality that can not only drive transparency, but also help protect brand integrity for supply chain partners.”