Australian beef is regarded internationally to be among the world's best in terms of meat quality, food safety, animal welfare and environmental management. These are all features which have led to a surge in demand for Aussie beef among lucrative Chinese markets. These consumers have demonstrated a consistently high willingness to pay premium prices for these quality meat products; however this demand has given rise to destructive issues of counterfeiting and substitution.
Global food fraud is estimated to be a $40b per year problem, and as Australia continues to boost our reputation for safe and reliable food among prominent export markets, these problems will only continue to grow. There are three ways in which beef fraud takes place:
1) Product substitution: where a product other than beef is substituted for beef;
2) Origin misrepresentation: where beef from one part of the world is substituted and labelled as beef from Australia (to attract higher prices); and
3) Cut substitution: where protein binders are used to artificially fabricate prime cuts such as strip loins, rib fillets or eye fillets.
Aside from the clear loss of value that should be being transferred rightly back to the Australian beef industry, there are other highly serious consequences that may arise from counterfeited beef being sold as "Australian" in China. One of these is the risk that there is a contamination or food safety outbreak caused by a misrepresented Australian cut that may lead to misguided restrictions or export bans for our industry.
BeefLedger is an Australian integrated provenance, Blockchain security and payments platform, which looks to tackle threats of fraudulent Aussie beef being sold in China. Alongside project partners QUT, ASTA, Ultimo Digital Technologies, Solar Labs, Orora and others, this Food Agility project will build and implement a secure end-to-end tracking platform that will track and trace the movement of Australian beef, driven via smart contracts from processor to end-consumer. Integrated crypto-currency payment systems will further add value to both consumers and the value chain of Australia's beef industry.
This proof of concept trial will be conducted over a 24 month window, beginning in December 2018. You may learn more about the project and contact project leads via the BeefLedger website.