Food Counterfeiting in China

In Beijing, a three-month major action against food counterfeiters has just ended. The project, initiated jointly by several Beijing authorities, revealed more than 85 hidden workshops and 68 cases of counterfeit food products. Food counterfeit has been a problem in China for many years, a problem which is difficult to control.

The consumers are the primary victims from fake foods and its health risks. Prominent examples are Chinese milk scandal in 2008 and the rotten meat disaster in 2014, which also affected global fast-food brands such as McDonalds or KFC (Link to article). Since then, Chinese consumers want more than ever to ensure that there is no risk in the products they purchase.

Food counterfeiting is also a problem for manufacturers and retailers. They want to avoid the enormous reputational losses and are aware of the impact of scandals for their brands. More and more companies therefore take measures to ensure the compliance and quality standards of their suppliers. Additionally, they have opened up new opportunities to an in-depth due diligence of third parties in recent years.

This includes in particular (at least in theory) the Blockchain technology with which the supply chain can be traced gaplessly. Another possibility is using so-called molecular markers: markings in food, with which the origins of the ingredients are clearly identifiable. The most effective response to food counterfeiting, however, is likely to be the fight of the counterfeiters themselves – not at the end of the value-creation chain, but at its origin.

The above mentioned major action would be a good occasion to tackle a more stringent persecution of counterfeiters by the authorities. Beijing has already announced that it will continue to take action against food counterfeiting in the future. The biggest beneficiary from this will be China itself. Even though the Chinese food industry suppliers have long been an important part of the global food supply chain, the majority of the foods affected by counterfeiting still come from China (Link to article).

Source: Beijing Municipal Bureau of Agriculture and Rural Affairs

Picture: Haimen New Media

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