Counterfeiting in agriculture is a major issue that puts both consumers and producers in danger. The problem has to do with how products are traced and tagged as they move through the supply chain. With traditional tracking technology, operatives can’t always verify the provenance and authenticity of goods in transit from producers to consumers. This means that there are many opportunities for fraudsters to insert their products into the system. In many cases, legitimate operators don’t notice until it is too late and the damage is done.
In this post, we explore 12 reasons you shouldn’t invest in fake agricultural products and then discuss some of the innovations helping to put an end to the problem.
- It puts consumers at risk. Fake agricultural goods may not abide by the same health and safety standards as legitimately-grown products and may potentially harbor dangerous chemicals, such as banned organophosphate pesticides
- It dilutes brand value. Consumers may begin to associate low-value products with otherwise honest and high-quality companies.
- It harms producers. Legitimate producers may not get properly compensated for their products if anyone can pass off produce as theirs.
- It could lead to health issues. Contaminated foods can cause multiple problems. For instance, high pesticide levels can lead to peripheral neuropathies, bacterial content can cause gastrointestinal issues, and heavy metals can lead to neurodegenerative diseases.
- It reduces trust in the agricultural system. Consumers may conclude that they can’t trust international food products and instead switch to local suppliers where it is easier to verify the source.
- It undermines health and safety efforts. Companies that are doing the right thing and investing in safe production methods have fewer incentives to do so if fraud is rampant.
- It reduces crop yields. Legitimate producers require proper financial incentives to invest in better production processes. Too many fake agricultural products entering the system undermines this incentive by reducing their compensation.
- It increases water consumption. Producers trying to pass off other agricultural goods as their own rarely implement high environmental standards. Because of this, the goods they insert into the supply chain may embody more water than their more eco-friendly, legitimate counterparts.
- It can lead to soil damage. Similarly, illegitimate producers are also more likely to damage soil compared to established and respected farmers in the supply chain.
- It eliminates traceability. Consumers want to know where their produce came from, who farmed it, and how it arrived on their dinner tables. But that’s only possible with full clear and transparent traceability.
- It creates mistrust in the supply chain. When fraud is rife, each supplier suspects the other of foul play. This reduces cooperation and increases costs.
- It is inefficient. Companies must invest time and resources seeking out fake agricultural products and eliminating them from the market, increasing prices for consumers.
Fortunately, firms in the supply chain can solve all these problems using the right tracking technology. The combination of NFC tags with the blockchain creates a foolproof way of generating an immutable product transit record without the need for centralized oversight. Such systems make it easy for fragmented supply chain firms to work together and convince consumers that they are getting intact and original products of the highest quality.