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Aussie postal service Australia Post has announced a partnership with global ecommerce company Alibaba and supplements brand Blackmores to combat the sale of counterfeit Australian food across China.

The businesses will work together to create a platform that will harness modern technologies to track food “from paddock to plate”, a system which will aim to reduce the risk of fraud and ensure Australia remains a trusted exporter of high quality local food. Professional services firm PwC is also serving as an advisor to the project.

Australia Post’s Executive General Manager of Parcels and StarTrack CEO, Bob Black, said the project aims to guarantee that Australia maintains a strong supply chain with Chinese consumers.

Our food producers have a global reputation as being a clean, green and safe provider of food and we are pleased to help deliver a solution to enhance the integrity of their produce,” he said.

The platform will look into using technologies such as blockchain to obtain details from suppliers about where and how their product was grown before tracking its journey through the supply chain. By enabling one to view the spread of data about a product’s movements, the use of blockchain will allow for increased transparency between the producer and consumer, and open up the potential for up-to-date audits to occur.

Australia Post said the partnership comes as a response to the growing of counterfeit food targeting Australian products.

A story covered by the ABC highlighted food fraud as a “national issue” for Australia, with incidences of counterfeit food spanning across local cherry, meat and alcohol products.

John Houston, CEO of global anti-counterfeiting and brand protection firm YPB System, told the ABC that Australia’s quality food products form a substantial portion of the global counterfeiting industry, the worth of which he estimated at $1.7 trillion.

“Australian products are highly prized because they come from a country where the provenance of goods is not in question,” he said.

“What I would say to any Australian food exporter to China is, the first thing you need to think about is that as soon as your product becomes successful over there someone will try to copy it or steal your brand.”

Alibaba is also looking at counterfeiting in other sectors, earlier this year announcing a partnership with twenty large global brands to form the Alibaba Big Data Anti-Counterfeiting Alliance.

With brand names including Mars, Swarovski, Samsung and Louis Vuitton on board, the task force aims to combine their data with Alibaba’s anti-counterfeiting machine learning AI to help keep the ecommerce platform free of counterfeit items.

The new project follows the official opening of Alibaba’s Australian and New Zealand headquarters in Melbourne in February, where Alibaba and Australia Post announced an extension on their long-running partnership that will see Australia Post expand its online shopfront to Alibaba Group’s Lazada platforms in Malaysia, Singapore, and Indonesia.

Chinese Premier Li Keqiang is also currently in Australia with a business delegation. On Friday the Chinese and Australian governments signed an agreement to enable better access to the Chinese market for Australian meat producers and exporters.

Image: Australia Post & Alibaba. Source: Australia Post.

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