E-commerce giant Alibaba Group has signed a memorandum of understanding with PwC, Blackmores and Australia Post to explore blockchain technology in an effort to curb food fraud.
Alibaba is looking to improve food trust practices and integrity through a framework which addresses food fraud risk.
The framework will be piloted in Australia and form the basis for a global supply chain model that could be applied across Alibaba Group’s e-commerce markets.
Alibaba Australia will work with PwC in Australia, New Zealand and China to set up the Food Trust Framework, aimed at curbing counterfeit food.
This will include the development of a pilot blockchain technologies solution model for vendors.
Alibaba Group ANZ MD Maggie Zhou said food fraud was “a serious global issue”.
“It not only costs the food industry billions every year, but puts consumers’ health at risk," she said.
“The signing of today’s agreement is the first step in creating a globally respected framework that protects the reputation of food merchants and gives consumers further confidence to purchase food online.
“We see the Australian and New Zealand markets setting the tone for the rest of the world when it comes to integrity, safety and quality of food supply chains.”
Blockchain technology, often referred to as the “internet of trust”, was originally developed to publicly and irrefutably track the transfer of Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies.
It has been designed to authenticate, verify, permanently record and provide ongoing reporting relating to the transfer of ownership and providence of goods.
PwC Australia CEO Luke Sayers said trust in the food supply chain was important at a time when public confidence has been rocked by a number of scandals.
"Global consumers expect instant gratification, and when it comes to food, that means any time, any place,” he said.
“As a result, food supply chains have gone global, which creates added complexity and opacity.
“We envisage our services will assist Alibaba to explore ways it can address this.”
Blackmores and Australia Post will be involved in the project by providing information and in-market testing across their respective supply chains.
Did you know?
* Fraud costs the global food industry an estimated US$40 billion each year, according to research conducted by Michigan State University.
* 39 per cent of food companies say it is easy to fake their food products, and 42 per cent believe there is no method for detecting fraud beyond standard food checks, according to PwC.