A study outlining industry’s perceptions and practices around food fraud was released by the Centre for Interuniversity Research and Analysis of Organization (CIRANO). The study, Perceptions et préoccupations de l’industrie agroalimentaire canadienne face aux défis de la fraude alimentaire, was conducted by CIRANO in collaboration with Le Consortium de recherche et d’innovation en bioprocédés industriels au Québec (CRIBIQ) and the Institut sur la nutrition et les aliments fonctionnels (Université Laval). (For the English version of the report, click here).
Expired food being repackaged, vegetable oil added to olive oil, a mixture of chalk and food colouring sold as turmeric… food fraud is a growing problem in the agri-food industry and represents more than ever a prevailing key issue within the supply chain, from producer to distributor.
In order to better understand the perceptions and concerns of the agri-food businesses towards fraud, but also to document the current practices of the various actors in preventing and detecting fraud, study collaborators conducted a survey with 400 businesses representing the agri-food industry in Canada.
A few highlights :
Definition of fraud and knowledge of regulations: In Canada, the actors of the agri-food industry believe they have a very good knowledge of the definition of food fraud but a lesser understanding of its regulations. Globally, the actors of the food chain perceive themselves as being sufficiently regulated and rather well aware of their responsibilities towards the final consumer.
Perception of the risk of fraud: Whether we refer to food fraud in terms of the number of fraudulent products or the consequences of the fraud on health and the economy, Canada is perceived by the actors of the agri-food supply chain as being fairly immune to fraud compared to the rest of the world. However, the agri-food industry in Canada is aware of the consequences it can generate locally. Canadian businesses are also sensitive to the fact that they can be implicated or victims of fraud. The safety feeling is however heterogeneous with the chain (differences between producers, processors and distributors).
Prevention measures implemented by the industry: We clearly notice that prevention measures are well known (68 per cent of Canadian businesses report having an average to very high knowledge of these measures); simultaneously, detection practices are lesser known and not as widely implemented while they are perceived as effective. In terms of preventive measures, the traceability systems of the supply chain seem to be the practice of choice selected by businesses to prevent fraud.
In conclusion, the results of this study, coupled with the increasing number of frauds revealed in the media, highlight the necessity to further speak out about food fraud. In addition, this necessity is strongly approved by the agri-food supply chain actors who consider that fraud is an issue which has not been sufficiently addressed, mostly outside the business, i.e. by the agri-food industry but also by the government and public opinion.