manuka honey fraud, food fraud

Agribusiness Experts Believe Food Fraud Should be Handled by Global Integrity Body

According to a global financial services firm, the only effective way to impede international food fraud and the counterfeiting of high quality clean foods is to create a food integrity body. While the demand for clean, green foods is on the rise, especially among Asia’s middle class, the market for falsely-branded products is also growing. Ian Proudfoot, the global head of agribusiness of KPMG, says that the high price for top quality clean foods is helping to drive the counterfeit market.

“We do not have enough food in the world and therefore people can secure a premium by re-badging or distorting produce, to get more money,” Proudfoot said in an article featured on ABC.net.au. “There is not really a global body and, as a consequence, it is a real challenge for us how we ensure the integrity of our products. One of the things we need to be focused on, as an industry, is how we actually position ourselves to create a global movement around food integrity.”

Using New Zealand as an example, one of the most export-driven countries, Proudfoot explained that kiwifruit and local honey were the two products with the highest risk of being counterfeited for a high price. “Manuka honey is one big risk,” Proudfoot said. “We know there is probably 10 times more Manuka honey being sold globally than is actually produced in New Zealand because of people counterfeiting the product. Another key risk is Gold Kiwifruit, which is a unique product with intellectual property rights around it.

Proudfoot went on to explain that “There is a lot of re-badging of less high quality product being done, particularly in Asian markets.” This statement is based on the belief that counterfeit operations tend to flourish in markets that have less than robust intellectual property rights. Some of these key markets include those in south-east Asian nations and in China which is where many Manuka honey counterfeit operations have been identifies in recent years.

“Protecting the integrity of our food supplies is critical,” Proudfoot said. “I think there is a lot of political will to act on this, because if products are not high enough quality then that has health outcomes and other implications. My belief is we will see a movement towards a global food integrity body over the next couple of years.” According to Proudfoot, international bodies like the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation could be a leader and driving force toward battling the growing black market for food.

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