The nature of international commerce has led to incredibly complex supply chains. The cotton shirt that you buy from the local store may be made of cotton grown in India, blended with other cotton in Australia, spun into yarn in Vietnam, woven into cloth in Turkey and then sown and cut in Portugal. The economics of international shipping and the comparative advantage of different countries in different industries make this the rational way to operate in a global economy.
With these complex supply chains comes an increase in fraud – Egyptian cotton sheets with cotton from other countries, British beef patties with traces of horse meat, organic honey mixed with sugar syrup, New Zealand lamb from Chinese feedlots. Recent reports suggest that the counterfeit food industry is worth $49 billion dollars a year. This article looks at one of the companies working to identify and stop these frauds, Oritain. Oritain promises to determine, with 95% accuracy, if a product is really true to label. This fraud and the companies working to identify and prevent it are the fascinating outcome of our globalised world. As the cost of shipping comes down and enables more interconnected supply chains, companies like Oritain are going to have their work cut out for them keeping up.
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