“Food crime” has reached unprecedented levels, a new report to be published on Thursday is expected to say.
It draws on evidence from international police bodies Interpol and Europol.
They say that international gangs are diversifying – shifting from drug trafficking and armed robbery to illegal and fraudulent food trading.
The review of Britain’s food supply chains was announced in response to the horsemeat fraud in 2013.
Michael Ellis, assistant director of Interpol, told BBC News: “This has changed the scope of investigations. Criminals have realized that they can make the same amount of money by dealing with counterfeit food. Invariably the sentences are much lighter.
“In my experience, the patterns used by criminals involved in counterfeiting are very similar to those used in the dealing of drugs. They operate front companies, they employ front bank accounts, they will have false declarations for the movement of their goods, they will mis-declare their shipments.”