According to the latest report published by the European Union Intellectual Property Office, 4.4% of legitimate alcoholic spirit sales and 2.3% of wine sales are lost each year due to counterfeit alcoholic beverages on the market.
Various fraudulent practices can be highlighted in the wine & spirits industry:
- Grey market and parallel trade, disrupting the trade channels and the tariff agreements of the trademark owner;
- Counterfeiting with imitation or reuse of an identical bottle (poor copy, medium quality or re-filling a genuine empty bottle).
Despite the financial and tax losses, these counterfeiters can also endanger human health. In Russia, more than 12,000 people died in 2011 alone due to counterfeit alcohol consumption.
In order to combat this issue, new solutions are constantly being developed to protect, authenticate and trace bottles leaving vineyards. The combination of various leading protection technologies provides maximum security for wines and spirits.
Those solutions can be a unique digital identification, where a NFC chip is fitted on using an encrypted and tamper-proof certificate which is readable via smartphones for instance (authentication, detection of opening and drilling). These tags adapt to the customer’s needs: behind the label, along the side of the neck, in the capsule or above the cap.
Other companies have developed adhesive seals which are applied on the neck of the bottle to make it difficult for sealing caps to be removed and original bottles refilled with counterfeits. When it is opened, the security seal is destroyed and so retailers and consumers can see if the bottle has been tampered with or not. A QR code is also integrated into the seal to allow smartphones to check the authenticity with ease. After scanning the code they are given exclusive information on the bottle, ascertaining the nature of the contents of the bottle.
In short, security must be permanently strengthened to counteract counterfeiters, to keep being foolproof and ground-breaking.
Cécile, Consultant, Leyton France