NIAGARA FALLS, ONTARIO — If the local police are investigating a few of their own officers for smuggling cheese into Canada, they’re certainly not talking about it.
Const. Derek Watson said the force cannot “deny or confirm allegations of any ongoing investigation,” after a national news organization reported a few members of the Niagara Regional Police may face charges in a cheese-smuggling ring.
Albert Zappitelli, who runs Zappi’s Pizza, said that for a time it seemed like “every Tom, Dick and Harry” was coming around trying to see if he might be interested in buying cheaper cheese that was coming across the border from the United States.
“We saw how much cheaper it was over there and we even went to a customs broker to see if we could bring it in legally, but at the end of the day you are only allowed so much per person per trip,” Zappitelli said
“We could not bring it in legally, so we even went the next step of looking at the cost of the vats and labour and try to do it ourselves. When you add the cost of the milk, it drives the price right back up.”
After labour, cheese accounts for 80% of the cost of a pizza, he said. If a business is getting its cheese illegally at a lower price, it becomes that much harder for a legitimate businessman to compete when it comes to the price of their product.
Zappitelli has a cousin in Ohio who runs a pizzeria, and they sell approximately the same amount on any given night. His cousin spends about $90 on cheese every night, while Zappitelli’s cost is about $290.
“You can only increase your price so much before a family will say forget it and they won’t get it anymore,” he said.
Prices on milk and dairy products need to come down, he added, because if they don’t, those who live in a border town will continue to shop in the U.S., and that hurts anyone trying to run a business in Canada.
Canada Border Services Agency officials could not immediately respond to questions about cheese smuggling or whether any Niagara Regional Police officers might be involved in an investigation.