Upcoming conferences in Brazil and Singapore will shine a spotlight on food fraud, and ways to prevent it.
Organic and eco-labelled products are at high risk from food fraud because they command a premium, says the organiser of the events, Ecovia Intelligence.
Although relatively low, a number of incidents of mislabelled organic foods are coming to light. In May 2017, it was reported that a shipment of 36 million pounds of corn and soya beans into the US was falsely labelled as organic. Starting off from Ukraine, the conventional ingredients shipment increased in value by about $4 million (by obtaining organic status) when it arrived in California via Turkey.
Ecovia Intelligence sees Asia most at risk from food fraud. Rising consumer spending power and growing demand for sustainable and premium foods has made Asia the fastest growing market for such products. China has the largest organic products market in Asia; it is also, says the company, “the epicentre of food fraud”.
In general, the company observes, the longer and more complex the supply network, the greater the risks of food fraud. “Transparency is coming to the fore, partly because consumers are keen to know about product origins, production methods, and sustainability credentials. Technology is playing an important role, with smart labels and mobile apps meeting the informational needs of consumers. In the UK, the Soil Association has partnered with the technology firm Provenance to provide smart labels on organic foods. QR codes, Barcodes, and NFC tags, are enabling consumers to track organic food products from farm to fork.
“Technology is already being deployed for food authenticity and to detect fraud. Analytical tools, such as mass spectrometry and gas chromatography, are being used to authenticate premium products, such as Manuka honey, basmati rice, and extra virgin olive oil. Forensic techniques, such as DNA fingerprinting, are now making their way to food labs to check product samples
• Sustainable Foods Summit Ecovia Intelligence is hosting dedicated workshops on food fraud and authenticity at upcoming editions of the Sustainable Foods Summit. The workshops will be led by Andy Morling, Head of National Food Crime Unit, (Food Standards) UK.
Sustainable Foods Summit Latin America 18-20 September, São Paulo
Sustainable Foods Summit Asia-Pacific 28-30 November, Singapore