Here at Enterprise Labeling, we often call attention to illegal counterfeiting schemes. As we have previously discussed, there is currently a thriving counterfeit wine industry in China.
The expansion of the nation's middle and upper classes has caused demand for brand-name wines to skyrocket, making China the world's fifth largest wine market and inviting opportunist counterfeiters to get into the business. This is causing serious headaches for wine producers in the U.S., who want to tap into the growing Chinese market.
In a show of support for upstate wineries, New York senator Charles Schumer recently spoke at the Johnson Estate Winery in Westfield, New York, condemning counterfeiters and insisting that the federal government should take action to protect domestic wine producers from cheap foreign knockoffs.
Unfortunately, there is little that can be done to stop the flood of counterfeit vintages in China. The problem is that the counterfeiters in question are operating outside of the U.S. government's jurisdiction.
Schumer said he had called on the U.S. trade representative, the Department of Agriculture and Customs and Border Protection, seeking to get government organizations to exert pressure on Chinese authorities to crack down on sales of fake wines.
The most devious schemes to involve Chinese companies that buy up large quantities of the real wine, use it, then fill the bottles back up with cheap alternatives and resell them to uneducated Chinese wine drinkers.
Improvements in label tracking and traceability can help by allowing investigators to follow the path taken by each shipment of bottles, pinpointing the distributor that is the last stop for the bottles before they end up in the hands of bootleggers. This makes it easy to spot probable counterfeiting operations that show themselves by making bulk purchases of the real product. Of course, it is up to the wine industry to set these necessary labeling trends in motion.