Fonterra said initiative will boost confidence of consumers in products they are buying

Fonterra said initiative will boost confidence of consumers in products they are buying

New Zealand dairy giant Fonterra has teamed up with Chinese e-commerce retailer Alibaba to launch a pilot food safety initiative that will deploy "new technologies to stop the production of counterfeit and fraudulent food products".

Fonterra has signed a memorandum of understanding for the project with Alibaba, together with consultancy PwC and the New Zealand Post Group, which includes plans to develop a "pilot blockchain technologies solution model".

The aim of the project is to "enhance traceability models and introduce new technologies to stop the production of counterfeit and fraudulent food products", Fonterra said.

Jacqueline Chow, the COO of Fonterra's global consumer and foodservice division, claimed the partnership would give consumers more confidence in the products they are buying.

"Connecting our co-operative with consumers and being able to reassure them about the quality and safety of our products is fundamental to being the most trusted source of dairy nutrition," Chow said. "It is all about providing consumers with the opportunity to have a personal connection with their food and let them know more about the source of their food, how it is produced and how it moves through the supply chain."

Fonterra said blockchain technologies, "often referred to as the internet of trust, were originally developed to track the transfer of Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies". "These technologies authenticate, verify, permanently record and provide ongoing reporting in relation to the transfer of ownership of goods – including food products."

Maggie Zhou, the managing director of Alibaba's operations in Australia and New Zealand, said the agreement was "the first step in creating a globally-respected framework that protects the reputation of food merchants and gives consumers further confidence to purchase food online".

"Given New Zealand and Australia's exemplary regulatory environments, along with being home to some of the world's most successful food and beverage exporters, it was a natural decision to pilot the programme here," Zhou said.