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Last updateFri, 06 Dec 2019 4pm
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Leaving fraudsters a bad taste

 

Fake wine has caused a major stir in the Republic for connoisseurs. Winemakers have resorted to printing verifiable barcodes to differentiate themselves. Christel Lee from Print World Asia reports.

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We last watched Chinese companies get busted for producing fake wines in Chateau Lafite Rothschild's name. Some 10,000 bottles of the questionable liquor were uncovered in the eastern city of Wenzhou in Shanghai, China. The owner denied any involvement in the counterfeit production and was appalled his property was a place to stash the loot. Analysts have estimated some 70% of wines sold in this name are fakes. To date, legal actions against Chinese firms over fake wines have been successful.

However, barcodes have achieved a new role in their purposes – verifying authenticity, corroborating the seriousness of counterfeiting in foods. Castel, the largest producer of French wine, uses the technology on 13 million bottles for the Chinese market as well on exports to other emerging markets such as Vietnam where counterfeiting is most prevalent.

"The Chinese are asking for a lot of information and for reassurance regarding the origin of the product," said Franck Crouzet, spokesperson for Castel. However Chinese crooks are by no means the only perpetrators of wine scams. "China is the most notorious but the problem is worldwide," said Christophe Chateau, spokesperson for the Bordeaux Wine Council.

Security-printed bottling?

It's becoming an appalling norm a simple brand such as "Adidas" can appear as "Adidadas" on shoes bearing a strong resemblance to the authentic models. I saw this with my own eyes in a big mall in Singapore, on a pushcart. Obviously, a Chinese national mends the stall. However, picture the same error on another label. People like us will need no effort to call the retailers' bluff. Atrocious print quality can easily give the fake away.

A QR (quick response) code is a two dimensional barcode invented by the Japanese corporation Denso Wave. Information is encoded in both the vertical and horizontal direction, thus holding up to several hundred times more data than a traditional bar code. Data is accessed by capturing a photograph of the code using a camera (e.g. built into a smartphone) and processing the image with a QR reader.

Barcodes have been around for decades. They are versatile with a large variety of uses — especially in retail and manufacturing settings, and in transport and shipping. We're used to seeing the common barcode printed on packaging at the grocery store or in other retail outlets, when items are passed over the barcode reader at the checkout counter to ring up a sale. Barcodes are valuable at the point-of-sale, also for managing inventory and raw materials internally.

Common in shipping, barcodes enable greater accuracy and speed in getting packages delivered. And barcodes are used to manage large filing systems, library books, and a host of other purposes where large numbers of items need to be tracked efficiently.

The barcoded wine has been aggressively demanding attention in the market – especially with drinkers who are too paranoid with "hangover juice". Castel, the largest producer of French wine, uses the technology on 13 million bottles for the Chinese market as well on exports to other emerging markets such as Vietnam where counterfeiting is most prevalent.

"The Chinese are asking for a lot of information and for reassurance regarding the origin of the product," said Franck Crouzet, spokesperson for Castel. But Chinese crooks are by no means the only perpetrators of wine scams. China is the most notorious but the problem is worldwide," said Christophe Chateau, spokesperson for the Bordeaux Wine Council.

 

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