Food-tracing firm goes trans-Tasman

A Dunedin forensics company is expanding into the Australian market due to high demand for food traceability.

The company, Oritain Global, said consumers were becoming more concerned with provenance following recent disputes questioning the origin and quality of food.

In July, Oritain partnered with global medical technology giant GE Healthcare to run a traceability programme to authenticate country of origin of foetal bovine serum used in human and animal health vaccines.

The company has now set up an office in Sydney, but the laboratory work would continue to be done here.

Sandon Adams was appointed to run the Australian arm of the business, and said the demand for food traceability was huge.

“Food fraud is a huge global problem, estimated to cost the global food industry $40 billion every year … that’s 10 percent of all commercially sold food products that are affected by fraud.”

Oritain was started in 2008, and works with some of the largest food, fibre, and pharmaceutical companies in the world to protect their brand.

Mr Adams said expanding across the Tasman made sense, and they already had two major customers on the books.

“One of them is Farm Pride, who is Australia’s third-largest egg producer, and the other is Auscott – one of Australia’s largest cotton producers.”

Farm Pride sells barn-raised, free range and organic eggs and wants to certify for consumers which eggs are legitimately free range.

Mr Adams said the cotton industry had similar fraud issues.

“There are often incidences where superior varieties of cotton, of which Australia is a big producer, get blended and effectively diluted or puffed up with inferior quality products.

“They then get sold on – still saying they are Australian but clearly they’re not … so there’s a lot of interest from those Australian producers, from those brand owners, to make sure that when something says it is Australian, it truly is.”

Oritain has also made a deal with a large Australian dairy company, which it will be announcing soon.