Fifty wineries from the Spanish Penedes denomination met with representatives from the retail sector in Barcelona last week to discuss the introduction of new labelling systems which could help reduce the level of theft in the industry.
The idea is to stop bottles going missing either while they are in transit or in the store, and while most stores already use an electronic labelling system to allow them to tell when a product is removed from the store without being paid for, there are a number of gaps in this system - not least the fact that there is ample opportunity for the product to go missing between leaving the factory and being labelled by the store.
The stores are also concerned that they are spending more time and resources on labelling their products with anti-theft labels, and the simple solution would appear to be the labelling of the wines before they leave the winery. With this in mind, the retailers have been talking to the producers about the possibility of including the labelling system in the bottling line.
Pere Casals, director of marketing at Checkpoint, the company behind the anti-theft labels, told the Cinco Dias newspaper that the labelling machinery could be easily incorporated into existing bottling lines, adding a security tag which is not only harmless to the wine but also invisible to the consumer. These tags, which operate on digital radio frequencies, will trigger the sensors which most stores have at their exits if the product is removed without being paid for.
Casals told the paper that the introduction of these digital anti-theft tags to the bottle labels in the winery itself created a number of benefits, including better control of stock, fewer thefts and a neater, cleaner bottle presentation.
Around 1.5 per cent of total retail sales volumes are lost each year to computer error or being stolen by staff or customers, with most of these coming from the drinks industry. Surveys suggest that 20 per cent of these losses are due to workers at both the producers and the retailers, while computer error accounts for a further 7 per cent. A further 8 per cent are accounted for by erroneous distribution information. The rest of the losses are due to customer theft.