According to Heineken, the suspects mixed genuine Heineken or Tiger beer with other beers – with an estimated counterfeit production rate of less than 50 crates per day – then delivered the counterfeit products to outlets (reportedly restaurants, eateries) in the Tan Binh District of Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC).
John-Paul Schuirink, Heineken financial communications manager, told BeverageDaily.com this morning: “Although it typically concerns small volumes and all international brewers are confronted with counterfeit beers in emerging markets from time to time, we absolutely are on top of this issue."
Fighting brand infringements
Describing Heineken as the leader in the international premium segment, Schuirink said that the quality and integrity of the world’s third-largest brewer’s beers was vital.
“Our consumers deserve to enjoy a real Heineken beer when they buy or order one. We are working closely with the authorities and other brewers to fight these brand infringements,” he added.
Vietnam Brewery Limited (VBL) – which brews and distributes Heineken and Tiger in the country – said last Friday that it had successfully stopped counterfeiting of all its products, in collaboration with HCMC Economic Police.
VBL said its vigilant market control system enabled it to identify suspected counterfeit Heineken and Tiger bottles in the market, and tipped off the police who investigated the issue.
Gang mixed Tiger, Heineken with cheaper local brand
HCMC economic police subsequently arrested the suspects and seized the fakes, in a raid that took place in the Tan Binh District on June 18.
Leo Evers, MD of VBL, said: “We will continue to be vigilant in our market control system and do everything in our power, in cooperation with the Economic Police to stop counterfeiting in every corner of Vietnam.”
He added: “I would like to confirm once again our commitment in fighting against counterfeiting by actively continue to cooperate with relevant authorities.”
News of the counterfeiting ring broke last week on Vietnam news outlet Thanh Nien, which claims that one of its journalists led an exposé and first tipped off the police.
According to the news outlet, the ring mixed local (cheaper) brand Saigon with Heineken or Tiger in a 50:50 ratio into the more expensive brands’ bottles, working without any mechanical equipment bar a capping machine, and without using gloves or protective clothing.
The YouTube video, above, purportedly shows the gang in action.