Two more counterfeit wine rings busted in China
Police have busted two more production and supply rings operating in China's thriving counterfeit alcohol market.
One ring was distributing fake wines and spirits worth almost $6million in the eastern Anhui province; while in Guangdong a ring was refilling empty bottles with cheap bulk wines and selling them as expensive wines, featuring convincing labels from famous wine brands.
The specific brands being counterfeited were not named, but a local newspaper reported it was red wine packaged in wooden gift boxes.
The counterfeit alcohol rings are a continuing headache for international drinks companies.
Last month, TWE made an official complaint to retailer Alibaba following its 'Singles’ Day’ festival.
Singles Day is celebrated on the November 11 and is the world’s largest online shopping festival.
Some of its Tmall online “wine shops” were selling unauthorised Penfolds wine without proof of authenticity or the source of the product.
“Treasury Wine Estates is dedicated to ensuring the quality and authenticity of wines sold under our brands including Penfolds," told Drinks Business Hong Kong. "We work closely with our e-commerce partners to protect consumers from counterfeit products and wines from unknown origins that are sold under our brand names.
“In this instance, TWE identified various unauthorised stores unlawfully using our trademark and TWE-owned copyrights, as a result, we filed complaints against those infringing listings via Taobao/Tmall intellectual property protection platform."
TWE has also been faced with the problem of a fake wine brand in China called "Benfolds", which uses the calligraphy of the famous Penfolds brand.
The $15 billion fine wine industry in China is a prime target for counterfeiters, with a French newspaper claiming in 2013 that as much as 20% of Bordeaux and Burgundys sold in the country were frauds.
Tens of thousands of bottles of fake famous wines have been confiscated by police and destroyed in recent years.
Meanwhile, Brown-Forman estimates that around 30% of all alcohol in China is fake.
The fake alcohol isn't just a financial issue, it can cause serious health problems for anyone tricked into buying it.
“Drinking fake alcohol is dangerous – you just don’t know what you’re consuming,” Dr Bernhard Schwartländer, the WHO’s representative in China, told The Guardian last year. “Where counterfeit alcohol is made from poor quality ingredients or toxic industrial chemicals, consuming it could lead to serious acute illness or worse in the short term, and potentially a host of medium- and longer-term health problems.”
The Guardian also noted: "Tax rates on alcohol imports to China are high. Booze bottles brought into the country are supposed to carry import stamps that serve to protect legitimate importers’ goods from being replaced by counterfeiters, as well as to prove their legality, but many criminals are one step ahead ... counterfeiters were getting very good at removing unique identifiers that brands place on their bottles."