(Editor’s Note: This is an online-only article attributed to the December/January 2019 issue.)
Food fraud—the act of deliberate substitution, addition, contamination, and misinterpretation of food products such as spices and herbs, seafood, dairy products, fruit juice, meat, oils, and others—is a concern for consumers, producers, and distributors globally. It destroys the image of companies, throws a market into disorder, and affects consumer confidence in the industry. Though there are several types of food fraud, the Food Standards Agency (FSA) specifies it as two types: the sale of food that is unfit and potentially harmful, and the deliberate misinterpretation of food. Food items most susceptible to food fraud include dairy products, oils, honey, fish, meat, coffee, juices, herbs, and spices—such as saffron and black pepper. Thus, the assessment of food authenticity has become greatly important. It ensures the originality and safety of every food product coming onto the market. Food authentication can be ensured by using some advanced methods and techniques on a variety of food products. Some of the techniques include chromatographic, spectroscopic, biochemical, microscopical, immunological, isotope, and electrophoretic methods.
The demand for food authenticity testing has grown considerably in recent years owing to the enforcement of stringent regulations associated with food fraud, the increased economically motivated adulteration due to the growing competition among food producers, and the rising instances of food debasement such as adulterations, false labeling, and certification. According to Allied Market’s report on food authenticity industry, the market is expected to accrue a sum of $9,840 million, growing at a CAGR of 8.1 percent from 2018 to 2025.
Companies in the space adopt strategies such as partnerships, acquisitions, and more to offer advanced techniques of food authenticity testing to combat food fraud and improve food safety. They devote a considerable amount of resources to the development of various methods to identify food ingredients that are adulterated. In July 2018, Eurofins Scientific, a Luxembourg-based testing laboratories company completed the acquisition of Laboratories Ecosur, S.A., one of the leaders of the food testing market in Spain. The acquisition is aimed at offering their clients a larger analytical testing portfolio. In August 2018, Eurofins also acquired Covance Food Solutions, a Wisconsin-based company to strengthen its food testing offering in the U.S. In March 2018, the European Commission launched a Knowledge Center to improve food quality and fight against the long-standing issue of food fraud. In July 2018, the USDA Food Safety and Inspection Services (FSIS) partnered with 3M, a manufacturing company for the use of pathogen detection instruments and kits in food safety. The Dubai Central Lab (DCL) recently announced its introduction of a new device to test bigger food samples and ensure public safety.
Eurofins Strengthens Position in Spain and Turkey
The acquisition of Ecosur by Eurofins Scientific enables the latter to set a strong foothold in Spain and Turkey and gain a leadership status in the Spanish Food analysis industry. The deal allows them to serve their customers better in South East Spain, a prominent fruits and vegetables agricultural area in Europe. “We are very pleased that the laboratory we founded will become part of Eurofins’ family of entrepreneur-led businesses,” say Dr. Luis Coll and Julio Hernandez, founders of ECOSUR. “As a result of gaining access to Eurofins’ entire portfolio of competencies, we can now offer our clients a larger analytical testing portfolio, significantly expanding our breadth of services to the benefit of our clients.”
Eurofins Purchases Covance
Eurofins recently purchased Covance Food Solutions from LabCorp for a sum of US $670 million. The acquisition is aimed at expanding Eurofins’ presence in North America, the U.K., and Asia. The deal allows Eurofins to gain the scale and scientific depth in the U.S. that it enjoys in Europe and brings Covance’s long-standing relationships with many big U.S. food and beverage companies to the Eurofins Group. These clients capitalize on the robust technological portfolio and international network of Eurofins’ food testing laboratories globally. As Covance’s service offerings and geographical footprint are complementary with those of Eurofins, no restructuring of either business is required.