That is the warning from global food safety assurance specialist LRQA, which has highlighted the impact on raw materials of the Covid-19 pandemic, Brexit, and the war in Ukraine.
LRQA said that many manufacturers have had to change suppliers in recent months in a bid to meet consumer demand. As a result, there are growing concerns that food fraud opportunists may strike, particularly if new suppliers are not vetted to the appropriate standards.
This is not the first time the issue of food fraud has raised its head in the wake of supply chain issues.
Alison Friel, director of consulting, training and technical services at NSF wrote on Foodmanufacture.co.uk of the need for greater transparency and vigilance in the supply chain in the face of ingredients shortages and substitutions.
The Food Manufacture webinar last month revealed that alternating supply chains and the substitution of raw materials will continue to create challenges for the food supply chain.
LRQA said that sunflower oil and wheat were among the products facing increased global shortages, with manufacturers considering alternative ingredients, such as palm oil.
The shortage has caused the price of sunflower oil to skyrocket from $685 in 2020 to $1,665 in March this year, the highest price ever for the commodity. It said that while wheat prices were still not at the levels of their all-time high in 2008, Ukraine – the world’s sixth-largest wheat exporter – is predicted to produce less than 50% of its most recent pre-war harvests.
As food manufacturers adapt, LRQA is urging them not to skip critical factory audits and supply chain assessments. Without rigorous adherence to auditing and safety standards, food fraud is likely to infiltrate the supply chain.
Forbes Fyfe, agriculture supply chain technical account manager at LRQA, said: “Both the EU and UN have described the current climate as a global food crisis and warned of ‘serious risk.’ Therefore, we need to maintain vigilance regarding all types of food fraud, which is why we are calling on all food manufacturers to take the correct precautions to uphold supply chain integrity and protect consumers.”
He added: “A major incident of food fraud, like the horse meat scandal in 2013, could be devastating to an industry that has already endured so many challenges and mean the closure of effected business.”