SOURCE: A.T. Kearney

A.T. Kearney

A.T. Kearney

January 19, 2010 08:00 ET

Economic Adulteration and Counterfeiting of Global Food and Consumer Products Costs Industry $10 - $15 Billion per Year, According to Grocery Manufacturers Association and A.T. Kearney Research

New Study Quantifies Costs to Industry, Lays Out Best Practices for Responding to This Growing Challenge

WASHINGTON, DC--(Marketwire - January 19, 2010) - A new study released today by the Grocery Manufacturers Association and A.T. Kearney titled "Consumer Product Fraud - Detection and Deterrence: Strengthening Collaboration to Advance Brand Integrity and Product Safety," uncovers motivational drivers for economic adulteration(1) and the structural weaknesses at both the industry and governmental levels that have inadvertently created opportunities for economic adulteration to thrive. The study concludes that a fundamental change in the way industry and governments respond to product fraud and ensure product safety is critical to minimize risk and protect consumers.

The study objectives were threefold:

1. Broaden industry stakeholders' understanding of economic adulteration
   and counterfeiting and the implications
2. Provide strategic recommendations and tactical options to minimize risks
   associated with these practices
3. Establish a basis to advance public and private partnerships to monitor
   and address the threats of economic adulteration and counterfeiting of

"This study identifies and measures the consequences of consumer product fraud, but more importantly, the study provides specific recommendations for consumer product companies and governments on how these organizations can better work together to address the consumer product fraud issue," noted Dr. Craig Henry, President, GMA Science and Education Foundation.

The melamine incident was a trigger point that illustrated how economic adulteration could have both safety and economic implications. With a $10 billion price tag, 290,000 consumers affected around the world, and at least six fatalities in China, this incident proved that economic fraud could have global market consequences that impact consumers, companies, industries and countries.

Jim Morehouse, A.T. Kearney partner stated, "It is critical that consumer product company C-level executives take a strategic risk management approach to the sourcing of product ingredients. A single consumer fraud incident has the potential to shatter consumer confidence in a specific brand as well as cause major financial dislocations for a company."


The study provides specific direction for industry, companies, governments, suppliers and retailers.

--  Companies should continue to "raise the bar" on their product safety and
    quality programs by further integrating anti-fraud strategies.
--  Industry, including retailers and suppliers, must take collaboration to
    the next level in safety and quality by implementing a clearing house model
    and developing a shared library of ingredient reference samples. Retailers
    should partner with reputable suppliers and manufacturers that utilize the
    highest standards in deterrence and detection programs while verifying the
    authenticity of the products they receive. Suppliers should implement
    similar strategies as manufacturers while also considering ways to
    facilitate appropriate testing procedures, provide increased transparency,
    and partner with manufacturers in their effort to reduce fraud.
--  Globally, governments can be facilitators in establishing global
    standards and sharing intelligence on emerging threats and can protect
    legitimate businesses through the enforcement of property rights.

About the Study

The study findings are based on approximately 100 interviews with senior managers in the food, beverage and consumer product industry, 50 responses to an industry-wide survey, a 150-incident repository, and A.T. Kearney research and expertise. The study analyzes recent economic adulteration cases, motivational drivers and the resulting cost implications. The study explores leading practices and success stories related to fraud deterrence and detection, and examines opportunities for manufacturers, industry at-large and governments to reduce the risk of economic adulteration, protect brands and enhance consumer product safety.

The study is available for download at or

A.T. Kearney is a global management consulting firm that uses strategic insight, tailored solutions and a collaborative working style to help clients achieve sustainable results. Since 1926, we have been trusted advisors on CEO-agenda issues to the world's leading corporations across all major industries. A.T. Kearney's offices are located in major business centers in 36 countries. Further information can be found at

The GMA Science and Education Foundation works with the Grocery Manufacturers Association to help consumers, manufacturers and distributors of food and consumer products gain a better understanding of scientific, legislative and regulatory issues. As a recognized leader in science and education, the Foundation conducts innovative research and outreach programs to improve public health and economic stability of these industries, and also offers insights to help recognize and acknowledge the forces driving future change.

(1) Consumer product fraud refers to economic adulteration and counterfeiting. Economic adulteration is defined as the intentional fraudulent modification of a finished product or ingredient for economic gain through the following practices: unapproved enhancement, dilution with a lesser-value ingredient, concealment of damage/contamination, mislabeling of a product/ingredient, substitution of a lesser value ingredient, and/or failing to disclose required product information.

Contact Information

  • For A.T. Kearney:
    Meir Kahtan
    Meir Kahtan Public Relations, LLC
    Email Contact

    For GMA:
    Brian Kennedy
    Email Contact