Supply shortages could lead to greater food fraud risk

Manufacturers could be at growing risk of food fraud if they do not take the correct precautions when selecting new suppliers, according to global food safety assurance specialist LRQA.

With the pandemic, Brexit, and the war in Ukraine continuing to have a major impact on supply of raw materials, many manufacturers have had to change suppliers in recent months in a bid to meet consumer demand. As a result, there are growing concerns that food fraud opportunists may strike, particularly if new suppliers are not vetted to the appropriate standards.

Sunflower oil and wheat are among the products facing increased global shortages, with manufacturers considering alternative ingredients, such as palm oil. The shortage has caused the price of sunflower oil to skyrocket from $685 in 2020 to $1,665 in March this year, the highest price ever for the commodity. While wheat prices are still not at the levels of their all-time high in 2008, Ukraine – the world’s sixth-largest wheat exporter – is predicted to produce less than 50% of its most recent pre-war harvests.

As food manufacturers adapt, LRQA is urging them not to skip critical factory audits and supply chain assessments. Without rigorous adherence to auditing and safety standards, food fraud is likely to infiltrate the supply chain.

Forbes Fyfe, agriculture supply chain technical account manager at LRQA, said: “Both the EU and UN have described the current climate as a global food crisis and warned of ‘serious risk.’ Therefore, we need to maintain vigilance regarding all types of food fraud, which is why we are calling on all food manufacturers to take the correct precautions to uphold supply chain integrity and protect consumers.”

As the threat of food fraud continues to loom, business must ensure that international standards are maintained, and suppliers have been verified. Supply chain integrity programmes from independent assurance specialists, like LRQA, can help ensure product provenance, relevant certification and audits have been taken place.

Forbes continued: “A food brand has value only when the food made available to consumers is unadulterated and the ingredients are accurately represented on the label. A major incident of food fraud, like the horse meat scandal in 2013, could be devastating to an industry that has already endured so many challenges and mean the closure of effected business.”

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