India will need to introduce stringent food traceability measures to check the rising menace of fake food products passed on to a large number of unsuspecting consumers through various distribution channels, a top industry official said.
Nakul Pasricha, President of Authentication Solution Providers’ Association (ASPA), told indoasiancommodities.com that said India was in the forefront of global counterfeiting and cases related with fake food products were rising, sharply posing a serious threat to public health.
“In a general sense, India needs to adopt a better regulation regime to deal with counterfeit products making use of anti-counterfeit measures like hologram labelling, blockchain technology, etc,” he said in an interview.
However, for food products, India must look at adopting a more specific solution like ‘Food Traceability’ that provides the details of the entire journey of the product – from farmgate to the table,” he said, adding that the mechanism had been successfully implemented in many countries as effective track and trace technological solutions were available in the market now.
ASPA, as an industry body, works to raise awareness against the illicit and illegal economy and its recently released report on the state of counterfeit products in the country has made startling revelations.
According to the report, the number of counterfeit incidents in India increased by 24% between 2018 to 2019. The top 10 sectors with the highest number of counterfeit cases reported included currency, FMCG, alcohol, pharmaceuticals, documents, agriculture, infrastructure, automotive, tobacco, lifestyle & apparel.
Among these, the FMCG sector has been underlined as the most vulnerable, as counterfeit incidents had increased by 63% between 2018 to 2019.
“If we look at the counterfeit FMCG basket, food products like mustard oil, other varieties of edible oils, ghee, etc have an overwhelming presence. Trends suggest that food items including the packaged products comprise a major chunk of fake products available in the market,” Pasricha pointed out, adding that the sales loss to organised FMCG due to rising counterfeiting is well in the range of over Rs 1 lakh crore in the country.
According to the report, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, West Bengal, Punjab, Jharkhand, Delhi, Gujarat, and Uttarakhand are amongst top ten states which need urgent attention to frame anti-counterfeiting policy mechanisms.
Counterfeiting or fake products (sub-standard or even spurious) has emerged as a major bottleneck globally especially in the last one decade. According to a recent report by OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development), it has now become an over $500 billion annual business.