The deception of consumers is a serious issue, and when it comes to food, transparency about the contents is imperative. Misleading packaging and wrongful labelling of food items to deceive consumers to increase profits is illegal, and is regarded as food fraud, which is a food safety risk.

The possible economic loss for the UK due to food fraud is estimated to be around £11.97bn. As a company operating in the food industry, it is important to do your due diligence on the matter of food fraud and how to tackle it across your supply chain models. This is to avoid legal fines, costly recalls and maintain trust with your consumers.

In this article, we’ll be discussing the implications of food fraud and the effective supply chain management tools Authenticate provides to companies to mitigate the risk of food fraud across their supply chains.

What is food fraud?

Food fraud refers to the intentional act of deceiving consumers through wrongly labelling food ingredients and food packaging to increase profits. An example of this is lying about the food source to increase profits. This breach of trust can occur at any point through the supply chain process and can involve any food product, from meat, dairy, fruit and more.

A supplier may replace an expensive product with a cheaper substitute, then mark the product with a label of the more expensive product. This can lead to an economic loss for consumers who pay a premium for the higher quality product and can ultimately pose health risks to consumers, who should know exactly what is in the food they consume.

What is the UKs and EUs stance on food fraud?

The safety and integrity of the food available on the shelves in both the UK and the EU is protected by stringent laws, ensuring that consumers can purchase and consume food in a manner that is safe and ethical. All companies involved in the selling of food are legally required to align with legislation, and any breaches can result in legal repercussions.

The UK’s Food Standards Agency (FSA) defines food fraud either through falsifying information about food or food ingredients, or misrepresenting food packaging, all for the purpose of financial gain. Failure to adhere to the laws can result in fines and recalls, which can financially impact business operations. Consumer trust in the company can also decrease, which can negatively impact the relationship with the consumer.

What is the role of supply chain management in preventing food fraud?

The implementation of supply chain management practices is an important method of mitigating any safety risks that can occur, while building consumer trust and loyalty.

The tracking of supply chains allows for companies to document the movement of consumer goods from the manufacturer, distributor, and all the way to the shelves of supermarkets. This empowers companies with the ability to immediately identify risks and potential issues surrounding food fraud.

How can Authenticate help companies act on food fraud?

Monitor food fraud with digital audits:

monitor food fraud

To identify potential risks and incidents of food fraud as they happen, and establish clear expectations with suppliers, Authenticate can use digital audits to collect and analyse real-time data so companies and stakeholders can use this information to act instantly if any breach of trust occurs.

Companies can use this data to mitigate potential risks that can occur in their supply chains with increased traceability and transparency. Through automated data analysis, companies can easily identify patterns and trends which may serve as potential risks of food fraud.

Detect food fraud with supply chain mapping:

The process of supply chain mapping can play a pivotal role in mitigating the risk of food fraud by providing companies with a comprehensive view of their entire supply chain. Supply chain mapping provides visibility that encompasses all tiers and suppliers involved in the production and distribution of finished products. This empowers companies to easily identify potential areas of vulnerability and take proactive measures to prevent and detect instances of food fraud.

By collaborating with stakeholders and suppliers, companies can work together to improve transparency and accountability throughout the supply chain, and ensure foods are genuine and of high quality. This improves the overall transparency and accountability throughout the supply chain, which builds consumer trust and strengthens defences against fraudulent activities.

Track areas of potential risk with KPIs:

track potential risk

KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) can be used to mitigate risk of food fraud by providing companies with measurable targets to assess their performance in detecting and preventing fraudulent activities. KPIs related to areas such as supplier management, traceability, and product testing, can help companies to better monitor their supply chain. Companies can then use this information to identify potential vulnerabilities and areas of improvement.

Specifications to assess the risk of food fraud:

specifications to assess food-fraud

The use of product specifications can help companies tackle food fraud by establishing guidelines and standards for their products. By working with Authenticate to implement a comprehensive specification management system, companies can ensure that all suppliers and vendors within their supply chain adhere to these standards.

Monitor your supply chain with document management:

monitor your supply chain documents

Authenticate can implement an efficient and clear process to monitor and track your supply chain’s required documentation requests, ensuring that all steps of the process are properly verified. Effortlessly send and request multiple documents/policies from your supply chain, whilst having visibility of each supplier’s progress with the request at the click of a button.

Assess data easily with dashboards:

assess data easily

Dashboards are a valuable tool for converting static data on food fraud in supply chains into a dynamic format that can provide companies with a better understanding of the food fraud vulnerabilities in their supply chain. This empowers companies with the ability to highlight any discrepancies and unusual patterns or anomalies as areas for improvement so they can take corrective action to strengthen their supply chains against food fraud.

Authenticate offers supply chain management services for organisations looking to increase their supply chain transparency and tackle food fraud in their supply chains.   

Get in touch with the Authenticate team for more information and support. 

For more information on the Authenticate platform or to discuss your challenges and requirements, get in touch with the team.