Larry Olmsted has published several best-sellers, including “Real Food, Fake Food,” a book in which the journalist exposes fraud in the agri-food industry.
This fraud is said to affect all types of products, from the most gourmet such as extra virgin olive oil, wines, or lobster-based products to everyday consumables like coffee, honey, juices, or cheese.
Through various manufacturing processes (substitution, dilution, etc.) or through deceptive marketing, especially regarding product origin, the agri-food industry seeks to improve its profits, disregarding the health risks inflicted on consumers. Dilution and lying about the origin constitute 16% of frauds.
Estimates from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) put the amount of fraud at $40 billion per year, which is 1% of the global food industry market. The organization acknowledges the difficulty of accurately assessing the impact of this phenomenon.
Consumer advocacy groups urge consumers to question the nature of their purchases: What is the exact definition of the product? How to differentiate between offers for the same need? Does the brand have a reputation? Is the online selling platform trustworthy?
In case of doubt, consumers have every interest in filing complaints with the manufacturer. If the latter is acting in good faith, they will respond to the fraud to protect their reputation.