Australia is renowned for some of the best produce in the world and it's a reputation we should all be proud of and on which our national economy is heavily reliant.
So, a new report released by AgriFutures Australia makes for somewhat sobering reading, outlining the impacts of product fraud, which has a cost as much as $2-3 billion a year.
An amount which must have us all thinking about the enormous implications, and, most importantly, what can be done to combat the issue.
AgriFutures commissioned the research from Deakin University, which confirmed product fraud is on the rise and Australia's reputation for high-quality products is already suffering.
The report also emphasised the opportunities, and potential solutions and actions for operators, stressing that a coordinated supply chain approach is key and highlighted measures with a focus on early detection and prevention, such as authenticity testing.
This technology has come a long way, and Oritain is one company taking scientific verification of origin to new levels. It measures the natural properties of food and fibre, and in particular red meat to determine where it has come from.
Oritain can effectively sample Australian beef or lamb from any global market, and through its system determine which region in Australia the product is from. It's an 'origin fingerprint' unable to be replicated.
These 'fingerprints' for Australian beef and lamb give our meat industry the capability of verifying and authenticating their red meat products anywhere in supply chains - both domestically and globally.
It's exciting technology with the potential to turn around the current staggering losses from food fraud.
Of course, it's an enormous win for consumers too, because we who are keen to support our local industries and want to enjoy the highest quality meat products can rest assured we're getting what we pay for.
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It's a critical time for our primary industries, with consumers taking a keener interest than ever in the 'footprint' of their produce, wanting to support their local industries and wanting to know what they're consuming is indeed being produced locally.
It seems the pandemic has fostered more of a consumer interest in provenance, and an increasing acknowledgement of protecting our fragile environment also means more of us would like what we consume to come from closer to home.
What we must always remember is our reputation for the best primary produce in the world has been hard-earned, but unfortunately can be so easily damaged should consumers - and investors in agriculture - start to doubt the veracity of their food and fibre.
It's in not only our own personal interest, but in the national interest, as well, to get on the front foot.
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