Panfaids or Penfolds? Wine counterfeiting in China on the rise

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Australian producers including the iconic Penfolds brand and smaller boutique winemakers such as Henschke have fallen victim to the Chinese counterfeit market.

Pinghui Xiao, PhD candidate, Business division, University of South Australia, recently spoke to ABC Radio Australia regarding the copycat products.

“I myself in 2011 encountered a knock off case of what I call subtle counterfeiting. I found wine by the name of Panfaids sold in Guangzhou,” he said.

“Panfaids was intentionally designed to look like the word Penfolds in appearance. If you did not pay close attention, you would think this was Penfolds.”

“In addition, if you read the label description within the Panfaids, you will find the Penfolds winemaker, Max Schubert was mentioned.”

Xiao said that the prestige wine brands are easily found in the Chinese market and can be copied with inferior ingredients to make an attractive profit margin. This of course would put the brand in question and encourage rumours and speculation surrounding safety standards.

According to Xiao, an emerging domestic wine region in China was exposed for making counterfeit popular wine brands by using no grapes at all. Instead they added alcohol flavours into water to make ‘fake wine’ which caused the entire region to suffer heavily.

Intellectually property laws in the Country are quite lax which poses a massive concern for the reputation of established brands, many of which have been built up over decades, even centuries.

Xiao suggests that Australian producers should establish a wine brand ambassador in China to promote Aussie brands rigorously and keep a keen eye on the counterfeiting issues. He also suggests that Australian brands should be proactive in educating Chinese consumers on what characteristics to look for in Australian wine.

“The Chinese people are very recent wine drinkers… You have plan your story, your thinking, your ideas to people there, and I do believe the earlier, the better for Australia to penetrate into that market.”