As a growing consumer base is willing to pay a fair price for food and drink, Europol has warned that criminals could target this area of the food industry next. With interest in ethical goods rising – £1.5bn was spent in the UK in 2013 – officials predict that fake Fairtrade and organic products could be the next in line for a fraud scandal.
In a recently published report on counterfeiting by Europol, Fairtrade and organic products, also known as ethical goods, were highlighted as risk areas. Certification labels such as Fairtrade could see a range of copycats in the future, which could con consumers into believing they are buying fairly for high quality products.
Tracey Cranney, Operations Manager at food safety software company QADEX said, “As Fairtrade products are often priced higher than regular goods, it is no surprise that we’re expected to see food fraudsters closing in on this area. It may be increasingly targeted as experienced criminals can easily replicate the certification label.
“We advise food business to remain highly vigilant of all Fairtrade products they are retailing. It is the ultimate deception for consumers who want to make a moral and ethical purchase if they end up putting money in fraudster’s pockets.”
The Europol report also highlighted the growing trend for counterfeiters focussing on everyday items such as food and drink. In the past, fake luxury goods and pharmaceuticals were often the products of choice for fraudsters. Now there is a growing interest in food fraud as it seems it is more difficult to get caught and can be a lucrative business.
With food fraud cases on the rise, QADEX is urging all retailers, suppliers and manufacturers to step up internal and external checks and audits. It seems as if no product or certified goods are above food fraud, so to avoid a scandal supply chains needs to be tightened. While a Food Crime Unit is now in place, with so much criminal activity breeding around the world, it is becoming almost impossible to weed out the possibility of fraud.
The cloud software designed by QADEX is a fool proof way to protect businesses against fraud. The bespoke software allows each company to choose the relevant modules, and rigorously ensures each part of the food chain for each product is legitimate. From risk assessments to certification management, the software brings together food safety, quality management and brand protection.