Australian technologies tackle food counterfeiting in regional markets
Imitation might be the sincerest form of flattery, but for many food companies that are sourcing their manufactured products in the boarder Asia region, a nasty bi-product has been the illegal copying of product lines. This can undermine the brand and the reputation of its products in those markets and Australia.
When thinking of counterfeits, the first things that often comes to mind are handbags, clothes and DVDs bought on holidays in the backstreets of many Asian holiday destinations. However, food counterfeiting has become more sophisticated and now occurs in food products. This is an alarming concern for many Australian companies, especially since many buyers are now purchasing the products online. A recent report from the China’s Ministry of Commerce showed that in the second half of 2014, nearly 40 per cent of products sold online were counterfeits.
Australian food producers are however fighting back with new technologies as their weaponry.
Case study 1: Beston Global Foods
Beston Global Foods, which was established three years ago and has invested in the growing demand for Australian-sourced fish and dairy foods in Asian countries, has announced the development of a mobile app by which a customer can scan products in order to reveal origin and safety information.
Named OZIRIS, it has been designed specifically to combat both counterfeiting as well as food safety risks of consuming a copy product.
The app is expected to be available from late January/early February 2016 with the technology also becoming available for other food companies to purchase rights to use on their products too.
Beston founder and Chairman, investment banker Dr Robert Sexton, who is also chairman of a $3.1 billion ASX-listed financial product group IOOF, said he “believed that its technologies were a worl- first in combining food traceability with anti-counterfeiting.”
Case study 2: Camperdown Dairy International
A second key example of an Australian company taking productive action comes from Camperdown Dairy International, an Australian-based producer of infant formulas which has developed a platform to allow Chinese consumers to quickly check the authenticity and provenance of its products using just their smartphones.
Developed with product identification and inspection experts Matthews Australasia and the cloud-based authenticity platform Trust Codes, the system prints each tin of infant milk formula with a unique QR code with human-readable information managed by iDSnet. The printed QR code allows consumers to scan and identify the individual product and report its history; it also displays key information about Camperdown Dairy International, Australian dairy products, and how best to consume the product.
EachTrust Code assures concerned consumers that the product is not counterfeit, is not subject to a recall, and is not beyond its shelf life — among other safety checks. The Trust Codes platform uses a proprietary algorithm based on scanning history to validate each individual product.
“We recognised that Chinese consumers want surety that the product they give to their children is real, and is sourced from the country of origin that is stated on the packaging,” said General Manager at Camperdown, Gavin Evans.
“We want them to be able to easily access that information with just their smartphone, and they can do this at the retail store or later at home,” Evans continued.
“The code works with any smartphone. There is no dedicated app to download, which we considered to be a major barrier to adoption,” he said.
Camperdown says it is one of only eight Australian infant-formula manufacturers approved by the Chinese Government.
Since being granted its Chinese infant-formula manufacturing and export licence in July 2015, Camperdown has been focused on increasing its production at its Melbourne-based production-facility to supply the expanding China and the domestic markets.