Not the international cheese smugglers

But the international cheese counterfeiters:

Russian police say they have broken up an international cheese smuggling ring that earned up to £20 million supplying banned western dairy products, in the latest twist in the country’s war-on-drugs style campaign against embargoed foreign food.
Russia banned a range of food products including cheese from the European Union, the United States, Canada, Norway, and Australia in 2014, in retaliation for Western sanctions imposed on Russia following the annexation of Crimea.
In a joint raid involving at least four law enforcement agencies, officers found 470 tons of banned western rennet, a substance containing enzymes used for cheese production, along with forged labels from major cheese producers, the country’s Interior Ministry said in a statement on Tuesday.
The “international criminal group,” which had been supplying illicit cheeses to shops in Moscow and St Petersburg, had earned two billion roubles (about £20 million) since launching their operation earlier this year, police said.
“It was established that the crime was carefully prepared, and beginning in the Moscow region in March 2015 under the guise of cheese [the group] used rennet banned from import into Russia,” the statement said.

Looks like they weren’t smuggling cheese, rather were making it with imported rennet (which, I assume at least, is what partially determines how the cheese tastes) and slamming fake labels on it. So, it’s actually domestic production replacing imported (infant industry protection!) but using foreign inputs. That’s why they’re facing fraud charges, not smuggling ones: because of he labels.

7 thoughts on “Not the international cheese smugglers”

  1. I wonder if this is a bigger plot than we yet know.

    Tesco’s own processed cheese slices, melted onto toast and left to cool, used to taste like cheese and had a pleasant, chewy quality.

    These last few weeks however they seem to turn into a kind of claggy,vaguely cheese-flavoured slime with zero chewy qualities.

    Could the counterfeiting cheese Mafia be at work here also?

  2. The world has an old trade war between France and the Netherlands to thank for the existence of mimolette.

    Long live free trade.

  3. It’s also being smuggled, or rather, not. There is a free-trade agreement between Belorussia, Kazakhstan, and Russia which allows goods to travel between the three free of customs charges or inspection. And nobody addressed this when imposing the food import ban, so gangsters are now running EU products into Belorussia and Kazakhstan, relabelling it, and sending it over the border. Everybody wins, except the customer who is now paying 3 times what he paid before.

  4. Despite the collapsing price of milk and the Russian embargo, I have not detected a particular glut in the cheese aisle at my local Tesco. Is someone hoarding it? Cheese banking?

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