Fake food, drinks seizures in EU rise by 200%

By Ahmed ElAmin

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Cent, World trade organization, Fraud

The amount of fake food and drinks entering the EU grew by 200 per
cent last year, with the higher quality of counterfeits making
detection more difficult, the bloc's administrative arm said this
week.

Lipton, Coca Cola and Nestle products topped the list of faked food and drink items seized at the EU's borders, the European Commission said when announcing new measures to crack down on the problem. By comparision the average growth of all faked goods, including cigarettes, cosmetics, clothes, toys, grew by 12 per cent. Counterfeiting and tampering can undermine consumers trust in the quality and safety of a branded food product, leading to a loss in market share. In response companies have turned to new forms of packaging and intelligent labelling to ensure consumers and customs can check for authenticity. While cigarettes, children's toys topped the lists of seized goods in 2004, fake food, along with pharmaceuticals are a particular problem because of the potential impact such items can an haveon human health. "Most fakes are now household items rather than luxury goods and the high quality of fakes often makes identification impossible without technical expertise," the Commissionstated. "One of the reasons for this explosion in trade in fakes is that criminals can now produce them on an industrial scale. This provides not only increased profits but also a newmechanism for efficient money laundering." The Commission's proposed measures would begin to be implemented during the rest of 2005 and 2006. The 103 million counterfeited and pirated goods seized in 2004 represent an increase of more than12 per cent compared to 2003 and a 1000 per cent increase compared to 1998. About 4.4 million.of foodstuff, drinks and alcoholic items were seized in the EU last year. The total represents four per cent of the total counterfeit items seized in the EU last year. Chinaaccounted for most of the total faked goods seized last year. The food, drinks and alcoholic items were seized in 53 interceptions. Fakes of Coca Cola products accounted for 13 per cent of the seizures, the same as Nestle and Spirits Products International.AS Kalev fakes accounted for another six per cent. Counterfeit champagne, Knorr and Brugal products accounted for four per cent each of the fakes. Other brand labels accounted for the rest of thefakes. In terms of the volume of items seized in the category, Lipton products topped the list, accounting for 67 per cent of the number of fake articles. Spirits Products International accounted foranother 21 per cent, Coca Cola five per cent, Knorr two per cent and Pepsi one per cent. In terms of origin, Russia accounted for about 13 per cent of the fakes in foods and drinks. The Ukraine accounted for another 13 per cent, the Dominican Republic nine per cent, Nigeria nine percent, the US six per cent, Hungary four per cent and Argentina four per cent. Other unidentified countries accounted for the rest. The Commission proposes to: form a new business-customs working group to consider refining anti-counterfeit legislation; form a new task force of customs experts; complete an anti-counterfeiting risk management guide; develop a new electronic system of secure, real-time transmission of information on companies and intellectual property databases; promote the signature of memoranda of understanding with major trade representatives such as airlines, shipping companies and express carriers with consider possible amendments to the World Trade Organisation Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) agreement so that countries apply anti-counterfeiting controls not only on imports but also on exports, transit and transhipment movements. Off-the-shelf scanners, printers and software areof such high quality that even novice fraudsters can use them to create labels and packaging for counterfeit branded foods, the Commission said.

Related topics: Markets, Soft Drinks & Water

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