Stock rustlers beware. Mosgiel-based company Oritain is using
its pioneering approach to scientifically certify the origin
of food products to help address the multimillion-dollar
issue of stock theft.
The company, which is based at Invermay, uses an ''origin''
based system, identifying the naturally occurring chemical
properties of food products, which were influenced by the
soils and environment in which they were produced.
It works with food producers throughout New Zealand and
around the world to protect their brands and reputation - and
now it is using the same system to protect farmers' stock.
Each farmer already had their own unique identifier of their
stock due to its location; it was there in its meat and
fibre, Oritain business development manager Dr Sam Lind said.
Through its Farmprint scheme, farmers would provide meat and
fibre tissues which would then be analysed, giving a
''fingerprint'' profile. If that stock was ever stolen, there
was evidence to track it back to its farm of origin, Dr Lind
Those farmers who signed up to Farmprint would have a sign to
hang on their fence, to signal that the farm was protected by
Dr Lind believed that Farmprint could deter crime before it
happened and he also felt it was a less confrontational
approach to having the likes of video surveillance cameras
Thefts occurred in rural areas ''all the time'', and while
machinery could be insured, large flocks or herds of stock
were often not. Losses were ''money straight out of the back
of farmers pockets''.
''Our service is essentially providing that insurance,'' he
Federated Farmers estimated stock theft was costing the
farming community about $120 million each year.
It was a bigger problem than most people thought and there
also appeared to be a link between stock theft and other
crime, Oritain chief executive and farmer Grant Cochrane
Oritain did a survey among sheep, beef and deer farmers and
just under 90% of about 30-odd respondents felt they had been
victims of stock theft, or were aware of it in their area.
The aim was to launch Farmprint in Otago and, depending on
uptake, roll it out nationally. There was also potential for
international clients as stock theft was ''an issue
everywhere'', Mr Cochrane said.
Costing farmers between about $400 and $500 a year, it was a
cost-effective solution. It could be offered cheaply because
Oritain had the science capability from its normal business
and the science would ''stand up in court'', he said.
Oritain wanted to get as much uptake as possible for the
scheme. Traditionally, it was a business-to-business
organisation, but the initiative was business-to-consumer and
it was looking at non-traditional ways to get that uptake,
including partnering with rural communities.
Oritain's business continued to expand. It had taken on six
new science graduates from the University of Otago in the
past 12 months and now had 16 staff.
The next 12 months were going to be ''really exciting'' with
both Farmprint and some other projects being worked on, Dr