Impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on food fraud vulnerability in food supply networks

Research output: Book/ReportReportProfessional


The COVID-19 pandemic and related containment measures have placed food supply chains under great pressure. They have led to disruptions in supply and demand of food products but also led to shortfall in staff in various places affecting production, logistics, and adequacy of controls. Any disturbance in routine practices affects crime and criminal behaviour as has been conceptualised by the criminological Routine Activities Theory. Therefore, an effect of the pandemic on food fraud risk and prevalence may be expected. In the current study we examined the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on food fraud vulnerabilities of European food businesses by conceptualising its effect on 50 food fraud risk factors identified previously using a theoretical framework analogue to the Routine Activities Theory. To identify the baseline vulnerabilities of industry segments, empirical fraud vulnerability assessment data from fish, meat, olive oil, spices, and various organic supply chains from previous studies were collated. Conventional and organic olive oil, meat, and spices appear industry segments with an intrinsically higher level of food fraud vulnerability. The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on individual food fraud risk factors reveals primarily an enhancing effect on the economic and cultural/behavioural drivers as well as a reduction in adequacy of control measures. The pandemic has less impact on opportunities. When focusing on the individual industry segments, all are impacted in a negative sense. Even so, fish and meat industry segments see most widely spread effects in terms of production, logistics, and demand. These disruptions affect, in turn, in particular economic and cultural/behavioural drivers. Consequently, food fraud vulnerability of these animal production chain networks, which was already relatively high prior to the pandemic, appear to have further increased due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationWageningen
PublisherWageningen Food Safety Research
Number of pages25
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2020

Publication series

NameWFSR-report / Wageningen Food Safety Research


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