IRELAND – Taste and nutrition solutions provider Kerry has sounded an alarm that food and ingredient shortages could lead to a spike in cases of food fraud along the supply chain.
“Instances of raw ingredient and food product shortages have been rife in recent months due to a variety of factors. This means that many consumers have to turn to alternatives in their daily lives,” said Noeleen Donegan, Global Vice President of Food Safety at Kerry in an exclusive interview with FoodIngredientsFirst.
According to her, when food fraud and ingredient adulteration occur across industries, the practices are frequently carried out for financial advantage (genuine items are replaced with subpar substitutes), which has a detrimental effect on consumer confidence and the reputation of food makers.
She claims that the global supply chain is more vulnerable to food fraud and adulteration than ever because critical components are becoming harder to come by and the sector is under pressure to keep retail price hikes to a minimum.
The European Commission estimates that economically motivated food adulteration costs the sector between €8 billion (US$7.9 billion) and €12 billion (US$11.9 billion) annually, says Donegan.
“While this kind of deception infringes the intellectual property rights of the impacted company, it also poses a direct threat from an allergen and safety point of view,” she says.
Notably, food integrity has long been acknowledged as a necessity for the industry, both to safeguard consumers and to lessen financial loss.
“The World Health Organization has called for industry collaboration for decades and established an annual World Food Safety Day in 2018 to highlight the need for continued action,” Donegan underscores.
Kerry is an active member of the global non-profit SSAFE, which works to strengthen food safety and improve well-being, as well as the 2015-founded Food Industry Intelligence Network (FIN), which was created to guarantee the reliability of food supply chains and safeguard the interests of consumers.
It has also invested in Quality, Safety, Health, and Environment (QSHE) projects.
Nevertheless, the globalization of ingredient sourcing continues to make assessing food integrity risk across the supply chain ever more challenging.
Growing consumer and regulatory demand for food transparency and sustainability are also pushing the industry to find better ways of sharing supply chain information.
Donegan says that the “industry must continue to collaborate if we are to achieve a fully transparent supply chain and the ability to share food fraud information across its increasingly global operations.”
“Participating in collaborative efforts such as FIIN and SSAFE is an important step toward this goal,” she asserts.