As Drugs Are Smuggled Into the U.S., Cheese Is Being Smuggled Into Canada

More

What's driving the underground trade?

RTR34JFM-615.jpgPetr Josek Snr/Reuters

The United States may be grappling with the effects of the Mexican drug war, but Canada has a rather different south-of-the-border problem: an unstoppable deluge of smuggled cheese -- and apparently, the criminal elements involved even include Canadian police officers:

CBC News has learned from numerous police sources that charges are expected soon against a few officers who are alleged to have been involved in the movement of caseloads of cheese from the U.S. to sell to Canadian pizzerias and restaurants.

The alleged scam involves jamming cases of "brick" cheese -- used as a common pizza topping -- into their vehicles to smuggle across the border. With U.S. cheese being as little as a third the price it is in Canada, drivers are making $1,000 to $2,000 a trip, according to numerous sources.

2885187232598247_pfBe2Mtj_c-200.jpgYou probably won't find sports fans doing this in Canada. (Mike Hayes via Pinterest)

Pizzerias in Canada can buy up to $100,000 of cheese a year. If that sounds like a lot, it isn't. Canadian dairy farmers are heavily protected because they're less competitive compared to, say, U.S. producers. To help these groups out, a spokesperson for the International Dairy Foods Association told me, Ottawa puts a 200 percent to 300 percent markup on imported cheese products. At the retail level, that can mean grocery shoppers in Montreal will pay as much as CDN$6.99 for the same 300-gram block of cheddar that might cost residents of Washington, D.C. half as much. A $10 French cheese might be hit by nearly $25 in fees. American producers benefit from other advantages as well, including steep subsidies that Canadian dairy producers don't enjoy.

Canada isn't alone in its high demand for cheese. Worldwide, cheese products are the number-one most shoplifted foodstuff, according to a report by the Britain-based Centre for Retail Research. Just over 3 percent of global cheese inventory gets pilfered from stores every year, the study found. In fact, cheese theft is even more of a problem than for meat, candy, or liquor.

2011grtb_6-615.jpgCentre for Retail Research


Jump to comments
Presented by

Brian Fung is the technology writer at National Journal. He was previously an associate editor at The Atlantic and has written for Foreign Policy and The Washington Post.

Get Today's Top Stories in Your Inbox (preview)

'Cattoo': The Rise of the Cat Tattoo

"Feline art is really popular right now," says a tattoo artist in Brooklyn.


Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register. blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

Why Do People Love Times Square?

A filmmaker asks New Yorkers and tourists about the allure of Broadway's iconic plaza

Video

A Time-Lapse of Alaska's Northern Lights

The beauty of aurora borealis, as seen from America's last frontier

Video

What Do You Wish You Learned in College?

Ivy League academics reveal their undergrad regrets

Video

Famous Movies, Reimagined

From Apocalypse Now to The Lord of the Rings, this clever video puts a new spin on Hollywood's greatest hits.

Video

What Is a City?

Cities are like nothing else on Earth.

Writers

Up
Down

More in Global

Just In