March 28,2018 – Zhengzhou, China
Central China Police have raided a warehouse in Zhengzhou, China uncovering more than 50,000 bottles of Fake Wine. The wine in question was labeled as the prestigious Australian Penfolds brand. The value of the 8300 cases of fake wine, branded as Penfolds was estimated at $3.7 Million. Treasury Wine Estates (TWE) is the legally authorized owner and distributor of the Penfolds brand. Asia, especially China has seen a significant increase in their thirst for premium wines, putting the Penfold brand at the top of their list.
The problem that Treasury Wine Estates is having in China is that the brand is being counterfeited in so many ways. Fake labels with slight name changes, such as labels that say Benfolds instead of Penfolds. As in this recent March 2018 case officials come across the outright counterfeiting of the wine, its bottles, labels and cartons much to the chagrin of Treasury Wine Estates.
In November 2017 Shanghi Police, raided another warehouse and confiscated 14,000 bottles of fake wine branded as Penfolds after a 3-month investigation after complaints were registered by Treasury Wine Estates. As a global leader in wine, Treasury Wine Estates has been on the forefront of targeting counterfeit wine producers.
Local Chinese Press points to a consumer as the lead in uncovering the 50,000 bottles of fake Penfolds uncovered in Zhengzhou. After purchasing a case of Penfolds from a local wine shop, the astute consumer did not like the tastes and suspected that it was not Penfolds. After notifying Police, the wine shop was investigated and raided on March 16. The investigation led to the warehouse where the 50,000 bottles of fake Penfolds was being stored and distributed.
Local press noted that it took 10 trucks to haul away the cases of fake wine to a holding facility. 10 suspects were arrested according to local reports. Police estimate from confiscated paper work that 3000 cases of the fake wine had already been sold from the confiscated lot. The labels of the confiscated fake Penfolds were printed with BIN numbers, 2, 8, 28, 128, 389, 409, 707.
In February 2018 TWE CEO Mike Clarke announced that the Company will increase its vigilance against those producing copycat Penfolds. In interviews with the Press, Mr. Clarke noted that the Company has initiated legal action in the Federal Court in Australia against one operator producing fake Penfolds and have unleashed more investigative teams throughout China to stop the “nonsense”. Since taking over the helm of TWE four years ago, Mr. Clarke has guided the Company to an 18% profit increase in Asia.
As the middle class in China continues its exponential growth, its taste for premium alcoholic beverages continues to grow in proportion. This growth of premium brand alcoholic beverages opens the door for an expansion of the fake alcohol producers who target everything from Budweiser Beer to China’s own famed brand Moutai.
Of all the multi-national brands that are targeted by counterfeit alcohol producers, TWE stands out as a brand that is proactively seeking to stop the practice of fake alcohol productions, which is not only an affront to the Brand, but is often deadly to the consumer. The vigilance of TWE, and the efforts of the Chinese Police have removed 64,000 in the two raids of November 2017 and March 2018, regretfully this is most likely a small percentage of fake alcohol that is sold throughout China and the world.
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