Illicit trade and food fraud significantly threaten global markets and public health, according to a recent World Trade Organization report. The report emphasizes the cost-effectiveness of preventive measures for governments and the food industry. Insights from the WTO’s 2023 Annual Agriculture Symposium highlight the severe health risks posed by adulterated and counterfeit products, which erode consumer trust and create trade barriers due to safety concerns.

The WTO combats these issues through agreements allowing countries to regulate food imports based on scientific risk assessments and address deceptive practices. Director-General Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala stressed that food fraud affects all continents and many agri-food sectors. The global cost of food fraud is estimated to be $30 to $50 billion annually, necessitating regulatory measures, enforcement, industry cooperation, and consumer education.

Experts warn that illicit food trade may increase due to high demand and population growth. Vulnerabilities include e-commerce, novel food sources, the informal sector, and organized crime. Complex supply chains provide opportunities for fraud, and customs officers lack the resources to inspect every shipment. The WTO report calls for a comprehensive approach to protect public health and maintain the integrity of the food supply chain.

Published Date

June 3, 2024


Advocacy, Cold Chain Development, International, Legal Issues


Africa, Asia-Pacific, Australia, Canada, Central & South America, Europe, Mexico, United States


Controlled Environment Building, GCCA Transportation, GCCA Warehouse, Global Cold Chain Foundation