A new Australian-developed technology suite called eBottli has launched, with the potential to defend our wine export industry against the booming global trade in counterfeit wines.
EBottli delivers a suite of new tracking and blockchain data technologies, geolocating services for bottles or containers, and unique identifier labels for winemakers. Developed with the support of the South Australian Government, eBottli helps guarantee a wine’s authenticity, and helps address the issue of brand trust for Australian exports – a huge issue in markets such as Asia.
Currently, Australia’s wine exports to China alone are valued at $1.25 billion; but fake plonk is even bigger business. Potential losses to the global industry due to counterfeits are estimated to reach $4.3 trillion by 2022. In China alone, experts claim around 50 per cent of wine over $35 is fake, and up to 70 per cent of bottles sold are fraudulent. This is a major problem for our wine exporters, who are already reeling from bush fires, drought, and the threat of a post-COVID trade war with China.
Founded by French-born, Adelaide-based Nathalie Taquet, eBottli is now working with 12 clients across Australia, including vineyards in the quality wine regions of McLaren Vale and the Barossa Valley in South Australia. Premium artisan wine labels are particularly vulnerable to export fraud.
“It’s quite unbelievable the extent that wine counterfeiters will go to,” says Taquet. “Some will simply replace valuable wine with cheap substitutes in the bottle, with fake labels. They also add juice, and spices for added flavour. Other dodgy bottles contain no grapes at all, and even have harmful substances added – such as lead acetate, which is a sweetener.”
There are a number of anti-counterfeit technologies available to the Australian wine industry, but eBottli is the most comprehensive: it uses multiple tracking and geolocating technologies, is ready to use, has its own secure app, and is reliable and low-cost compared to others.
“The eBottli technology also allows wine drinkers to connect with the vineyard, and see the story of how the bottle came to be in front of them,” said Taquet. “Our ultimate plan is to have wine bottles arrive to the customer overseas, and then they can use their smartphones to scan the label and read its Australian story of origin.”
Taquet also envisages using technology as a major point of difference for her B2C business, the online wine club Bottli, which specialises in premium and luxury French and Australian wines. Bottli launched last year, and has already built a loyal wine-loving customer base.
Taquet and her family moved to Australia two years ago, and got their start in Sydney. The South Australian government provided attractive incentives to base eBottli in Adelaide, through the new Supporting Innovation in South Australia (SISA) program, so Taquet and her family made the move. Although both businesses have been disrupted by COVID-19, Nathalie has a strong vision for the future for both Bottli and eBottli.
“We started Bottli to ensure Australians could access the best quality exclusive French and Australian wines,” said Taquet. “We deliver a niche selection of wines from smaller, boutique Australian wineries that do not supply major bottle shops along with some French wines, to customers once a month.”
Taquet said a family-owned winery in the Burgundy wine region in France grew her own passion for the industry.
“Our French family heritage and passion for wine guided us towards unique artisan winemakers. Bottli also offers wine concierge and sommelier services and we are able to track and source extremely rare and valuable bottles of wine from around the world on request,” said Taquet.
Before starting Bottli and eBottli, Taquet who has a PhD in Life Sciences and a background in science research, was working for Nestle Skin Health. She is on the Board of Wine Industry Suppliers Australia, and has future plans to move the eBottli technology into other produce export market.