The Impact of Agribusiness Crimes on Food Prices: Evidence From Italy – Economia Politica – article

The Impact of Agribusiness Crimes on Food Prices: Evidence From Italy

Gaetano Perone | Economia Politica

2019-11-05

From the 1990s the Italian agribusiness sector is increasingly threatened by a new and dangerous phenomenon: organized crime in the agribusiness sector. The so-called “Agromafia” imposes its control throughout the whole agricultural supply chain, from production to retail, passing through the processing industry, transports and large-scale distribution. In this paper we examine the relationship between eco-crimes and consumer food and non-alcoholic drinks price index for the 20 Italian regions and 80 Italian provinces in the 1998–2016 period. At regional level, as a proxy for the Agromafia’s activities, we build an ad hoc eco-criminal index for every region using data annually elaborated from Legambiente. At province level, as a proxy for Agromafia’s activities, we use eight specific variables: extortions, counterfeiting, contraband, forest fires, all types of fires, money laundering, suspicious money transfers, and an ad hoc eco-criminal index. The analysis shows that the Agromafia can consistently affect the whole agribusiness sector, causing an increase in food prices, especially in south of the country. The ten most affected provinces by phenomenon register a food consumer price index about 12% higher than the least ten affected provinces. By the contrast, in the center-north of Italy money laundering seems to reduce food consumer prices through the reinvestment of illicit proceeds in firms with strong cost advantages.

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