WINE BRAND PROTECTION AND THE FIGHT AGAINST COUNTERFEITS
Brand protection: why it is important for the industry and how to use your supply chain to make it as strong as it can be, with a focus on counterfeits, an evergreen problem for the industry.
In the wine industry, your brand is critical to success. Whether you are a multi-generational operation or a new company to make your mark, it is one of your most valuable assets. Your brand tells the story of your wine, from the soil and the vines to the bottle to your customers’ tables. It connects you to your partners and consumers. It sets you apart from your competition. It’s your identity.
However, wine — and spirits — are under a constant barrage of brand protection threats and challenges. Today we’re focusing on one of the biggest problems: counterfeits and fakes.
COUNTERFEITS AND FAKES
Counterfeits and fakes are an age-old problem. Counterfeiters misrepresent anything that distinguishes a brand and the characteristics that help it make a profit. For winemakers, this includes origin, vintage, variety, blend, and company history.
Theft and diversion are also part of the counterfeiting problem. These can occur at production and storage facilities and as wine travels across the supply chain. In this way, “damaged wines” manage to reach unsuspecting consumers. These wines might have been stored at the wrong temperature or have torn labels and bad corks. Bad actors take this adulterated wine, as well as cheap wine, and bottle it in a prestige package — maybe yours.
The notorious Rudy Kurniawan is the probably the most spectacular example of fake wine, but the daily reality of counterfeit wine (and spirts) is where the real problem lies. Consider these news items:
- Between December 2020 and June 2021, European police confiscated approximately 1.7 million litres of alcoholic beverages during a series of raids and investigations.
- In 2022, a shopkeeper in England was fined more than £4,000 for having 142 bottles of fake Yellow Tail on his shelves. (The counterfeit wine was less than 12 percent alcohol. Real Yellowtail is 13.5 percent. This is another example of how counterfeit wine is adulterated.)
- In 2020, 4,200 counterfeit bottles of the prestigious (and expensive) Bolgheri Sassicaia wine were seized in operation “Bad Tuscan”. Revealing the international nature of counterfeiting, investigators said the fake wine originated in Sicily, the bottles came from Turkey, and the labels and wooden boxes came from Bulgaria. Furthermore, “The 2010 and 2015 vintages, celebrated by Italian and international critics, were the most prevalent among the fakes”.
- In 2011, hundreds of bottles of fake Jacob’s Creek wine were seized in the UK.
Overall, it has been widely reported that 20 percent of wine sold worldwide is fake. Furthermore, the European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO) estimates that counterfeits cost the industry about $3 billion every year and reduce legitimate wine and spirits sales by 6.6 percent. Fakes also result in job losses and drops in tax revenues.
WHAT CAN WE DO ABOUT IT?
Your success and reputation depend on brand protection. This means being able to authenticate every ingredient and every bottle. You have to monitor and prove storage conditions and provenance. You have to have deep, real-time insight into every step of your winemaking process and where your products were, are, and will be. And you have to have the granular data to back up every claim and demonstrate to your customers that your wine is exactly what you say it is. If you cannot do these things, you are vulnerable to counterfeiters and fraudsters.
The good news is that supply chain serialisation, real-time monitoring, and traceability help mitigate these weaknesses by gathering real-time intelligence for effective brand protection, including:
- Fortifying your brand with supply chain data and unique digital IDs
- Creating an indelible provenance and telling your product story
- Monitoring in real time 24/7
- Inspiring consumer trust and crowdsourcing brand protection
- Leveraging Internet of Things (IoT) technology to eliminate blind spots
- Maintaining chain of ownership
- Protecting trading partners and consumers
Antares Vision Group’s integrated ecosystem of technologies works to improve and protect virtually every aspect of the winemaking process, from grapegrowing and harvesting to bottling and distribution. This creates a fully traceable and transparent system that empowers you to protect your brand with data from a digital supply chain. You can combat the threats we have discussed no matter where you are and no matter where you supply chain goes.