Product origin verification company Oritain, based in Dunedin, has raised $91 million to fund expansionary moves overseas, targeting companies with products that rely on environmental claims.
Many of New Zealand’s primary product exporters use Oritain’s services, among them Silver Fern Farms, a2 Milk, Synlait, Mānuka Health, Wools of New Zealand and Big Glory Bay King Salmon.
Overseas, industries that are already big users include cotton clothing and coffee producers.
Oritain chief executive Grant Cochrane said the new funding will enable expansion into Europe and the United States.
Oritain has over 100 customers in total, among them multinationals like Nescafé, Lacoste, Supima and Primark.
Verification includes forensic and data science to establish where a product has originated, sometimes within metres.
For example, new laws in Europe require a company to ensure a product has not led to deforestation, such as has occurred in Brazilian rain forest and Southeast Asian palm kernel plantations.
“Products such as coffee, cocoa, palm and soy have a big impact on the environment.
“Research and development in NZ will enable us to offer services to sell to brands overseas,” Cochrane said.
Founded in 2008 at the University of Otago, Ōtākou Whakaihu Waka, Oritain has built fingerprint and DNA databases that are unique to plant and animal products from specific locations.
It identifies compounds, elements or isotopes that naturally occur in the origin locations.
The traceability is completely accurate and admissible in court evidence, unlike bar coding and RFID tracking, which can be falsified.
Earlier this year Oritain collected raw milk samples from farms in all NZ dairying regions to include in its databases.
Former prime minister Sir John Key joined the board in January and Oritain has 60 staff members in NZ and 180 in total with offices in Sydney, London and Washington DC.