Global Times Mobile
As China's middle class develops a taste for imported food and drink, fresh produce suppliers in New Zealand and Australia are using anti-counterfeiting technology to avoid fakes.

Suppliers of goods from fruit to wine and lamb are working with makers of tracking systems, codes and powders to combat fakes that cost the global food business billions of dollars annually.

As tech tools become cheaper, services like China's WeChat smartphone app are also being used, offering consumers a free scanning method to work out what's on Chinese store shelves.

Smaller players like meat company Silver Fern Farms and Synlait Milk are working with local technology companies such as New Zealand-based Oritain, which measures food isotopes as a checkable "fingerprint."

Alibaba Group Holdings is involved a pilot Blockchain-based tracing system, signing up with New Zealand dairy giant Fonterra and Australian vitamin supplier Blackmores as partners.

Fraud costs the global food industry an estimated $40 billion a year, Alibaba said, citing research conducted by Michigan State University. In China, $1 billion in counterfeited goods was seized in 2014, according to the International Anti-Counterfeiting Coalition.

Companies in Australia and New Zealand are prepared to go to increasing lengths to protect sales they rely on for growth.

Widespread use of apps like WeChat and developments in technology such as machine learning have made it easier and cheaper for smaller technology companies to develop anti-counterfeiting technologies.

That lower cost base has brought tracking systems that were previously solely used by multinational giants like HP and Wal-Mart Stores Inc within reach of the small to medium-sized enterprises that are the backbone of the food and drink business in New Zealand and Australia.

Oritain charges customers NZ$300 ($208.2) to NZ$700 per isotope test product. For about NZ$200 a month, Auckland-based Trust Codes supplies a machine-learning algorithm that can pull data from consumers' phones in China when they choose to scan a product's encrypted Quick Response, or QR, packaging code.

At Auckland manuka honey producer Oceania Natural, Chief Executive Walker Zhong said he used his knowledge of Chinese consumers' shopping, social media habits and liking of convenience in building Oceania's own scanning system at a cost of NZ$1 million.