In recent weeks, the Australian food and beverage industry has been making headlines for all the wrong reasons. From fake honey, to a strawberry contamination crisis and counterfeit Penfolds wine, consumers would be well within their rights to question where their food and drink is coming from.
Food fraud is big business. Globally, the cost of food fraud is estimated at over AU$50 billion a year. So how can retailers and suppliers regain consumer trust?
Gennady Volcheck, CEO and founder of Shping, sees an opportunity for food companies to look at supply chain risk and improve the systems and processes in place.
Shping is a world-first integrated shopper marketing and product safety ecosystem that helps companies build a strong, reputable brand through product recall management, counterfeit protection and grey import protection services. It offers a new way for businesses to engage and market with shoppers in the final stages of purchase while also providing the opportunity for brands to gather customer spending data.
“In 2012 I had a personal experience with the issue of counterfeiting and started to look at how we could use technology to tackle the issue. That’s when we started a platform called Authenticate IT which evolved into Shping,” Volcheck told Inside FMCG.
“The idea of Shping is a mobile search engine for products that links all product information to the product market.”
By scanning a product barcode through the Shing app, consumers can discover what is in the product, where it’s from and if it’s been recalled. The Shping app also allows shoppers to contribute to product reviews and earn Shping Coins by scanning product barcodes and engaging with brands. Shping is fuelled by product information supplied by brands, retailers, government institutions, certification agencies, customs, product recall portals and GS1, Shping’s Global Product Database is set to become the largest of its kind in the world.
“We wanted to develop a platform that would enable users to tap into credibility data and to be able to verify product authenticity using their mobile phone. It had to be very easy to use so that anyone without prior technical or manufacturing knowledge would be able to verify the good by simply scanning a barcode,” Volcheck said.
In the case of counterfeit honey for example, Volcheck said that consumers could be one step ahead in determining product authenticity.
“A consumer would easily get access to lab results on the testing of products from the independent source. They would be able to know exactly the content of the product without relying on the claims made by the brand.”
He also referenced the case of counterfeit Penfolds wine which was recently discovered on sale in China.
“With Shping the consumer would be able to confirm whether it came from Penfolds or from somebody else and then they would be able to tell whether it was a genuine product or not.”
“It relates to transparency because if consumer or retailers are able to quickly get the right information from the trusted sources the damage is limited.”
So how does it work in the case of a product recall that happens after purchase?
“If a product recall has been registered the system will automatically send a notification to anyone that has scanned the product,” Volcheck confirmed.
In the case of the recent strawberry crisis, consumers who had previously scanned one of the affected brands after the initial recall, would receive an alert which could save them from endangering their health.
The Melbourne-based company is already working with beverage brand 123 Holdings and Nice Pak, which owns Sudocrem, Infacol, Milton, and much more. Consumers can download the app for free via the App store.