Industry group tacking food fraud grows members and data pool

Industry group tacking food fraud grows members and data pool
Prof Chris Elliott

Since its inception, industry group, the Food Industry Intelligence Network (fiin), has doubled its membership and data pool as it tackles food fraud using intelligence.

The group was established in 2015 in response to the Elliott Review with the aim of ensuring the integrity of food supply chains through the collection and analysis of intelligence. The initiative now represents £115 billion of cross-category retailers, wholesalers and food manufacturers in the UK.

“The more members we have, the greater our data-set and the more targeted and robust our intelligence becomes,” says Professor Chris Elliott, fiin board member and independent advisor

The network has welcomed nine new companies over the past twelve months alone, he adds. “This growth has meant there are greatly improved information collection and sharing systems now in place, and the opportunity for the UK food retail system to be penetrated or compromised is, thankfully, much reduced.

“However, there are some categories we would like to have wider representation in, such as alcoholic drinks, commodity food ingredients, and ‘food to go’ restaurants. To me these sectors remain highly vulnerable to fraud.”

Since reporting first commenced, fiin has collated over 250,000 product authenticity test results, which have been analysed and disseminated between members to provide valuable insight and intelligence. 25% of the current membership represents companies with a turnover of £100 million or less, who greatly benefit from this pooling of combined resources and data.

The network has also signed agreements with the Food Standards Scotland (FSS), Food Standards Agency (FSA) National Food Crime Unit and Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI) to establish two-way pipelines of information exchange.

Ron McNaughton, FSS, explains why this is a positive step forward. “Food authenticity is one of six strategic outcomes of the Food Standards Scotland’s five-year strategy, and ongoing information sharing is a key part of this. Our close links with fiin and the benefits of a two-way intelligence sharing agreement ultimately help to support this aim.”

There is a huge amount of effort that goes into running the network with significant benefits to members and the industry, and with enviable recognition in other countries, Professor Elliott adds.

“Food crime is an ongoing and rising threat, but in my opinion the UK is now the best-placed country in the world to fight back. I urge more businesses to get in touch and find out how they can become involved. There is simply nothing like fiin in any other part of the world,” he says.

fiin employs a collaborative and targeted approach to supply chain assurance and represents food and drink industry businesses across multiple categories including food ingredients, fresh, chilled, ambient, bakery and herbs and spices.