Counterfeit food and beverages detained jumps 50%

By Joseph James Whitworth

- Last updated on GMT

Source: AFP-Services, EC - Audiovisual Service / Photo: Lobaczewski Marcin
Source: AFP-Services, EC - Audiovisual Service / Photo: Lobaczewski Marcin

Related tags United arab emirates Eu European commission

Foodstuffs, alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages detained by EU customs authorities jumped more than 50% over a one year period.

Authorities detained 35.5 million individual items of fake or counterfeit goods in 2014 with an overall value of more than €617m.

Foodstuffs made up more than 1.6 million articles with a total value exceeding €358,000.

Other beverages totalled almost 454,000 articles with a value of more than €1.2m and alcoholic beverages made up over 148,000 items with a value just over of €880,000.

In 2013, foodstuff made up 161, 200 articles with a total value of almost €672,600.

Other beverages equalled over 53,700 articles valuing almost €67.5k and alcoholic beverages were just below 60,000 articles valued at almost €1.5m.

The statistics come from a report published by the European Commission which cites figures for 2014 on enforcement of Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) in the EU.

Top categories of detained articles were cigarettes which accounted for 35% followed by toys (10%), medicines (8%), clothing (5%) and foodstuff (4%).

Foodstuff top six presence described as ‘remarkable’

Five out of six categories remained the same as in 2013 but the order is different and ‘most remarkable’ is foodstuff in the top six.

EU counterfeit Lobaczewski Marcin
Source: AFP-Services, EC - Audiovisual Service / Photo: Lobaczewski Marcin

The most important increases (>50% compared to 2013) was in categories including foodstuffs, alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages, according to the report.

An EU source told us that food and beverages infringe IPR mainly when the labels on the counterfeit product infringes on a trademark.

“Foodstuff is always an area of concern as this is directly related to the health and safety of consumers. However for IPR this is not the main area of detentions, nor is it a growing area. There are indeed higher figures in this report than in other years, but there is no clear trend.

“It is always important to have the cooperation of the right holder to be effective in IPR enforcement. They need to make applications for action with the customs authorities and they should provide as much information as possible in order to maximise the risk management of customs authorities.”

The source said it was ‘remarkable’ because in other years they did not appear in the top categories of detained goods.

In the foodstuff sector cases are resolved by a settlement between the parties involved. In 2014, the detentions related to geographical indications concerned exclusively spirits (CGIS).

Originating country

As in previous years, China was the primary originating country (80%) for counterfeit goods, followed by Hong Kong, United Arab Emirates, Turkey and India. 

EU counterfeit Bourgeois Benoît
Source: Sipa Press, EC - Audiovisual Service / Photo: Bourgeois Benoît

However, other countries appear as the main country of provenance for specific product categories, notably Panama for alcoholic beverages and Morocco for other beverages.

Peru was the originating country of a large amount of fruit which infringed on Community Plant Variety Rights (CVPR). 

The source told us this was because the fruit species concerned was protected by a CVPR and the imported fruit did not have the consent of the owner or the right to be put on the market in the EU.

“Customs work on the basis of risk analysis and they will take into account former detentions as well as any other information to make selections of shipments for which they expect that the risk of infringing an IPR is high,” ​they added.

In over 90% of all category detentions, goods were destroyed or a court case started to determine the nature of the infringement.

In 27% of cases there was destruction of a small consignment and in more than 8% cases, they were released because they appeared to be non-infringing original goods or no action was taken by the right-holder after receiving the notification by customs authorities.

Related topics Policy Beverage Food Safety & Quality

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