One thing is for sure, your company and brand are not successful until someone believes it is worth their time to design a counterfeit version of your product. There is not a single industry untouched by counterfeits. Even the US military has a estimated 1 million pieces of counterfeit material in the supply chain.
Recently BiteRiot, a company from Australia that sells fruit has discovered that its product is counterfeited and being sold in China. While the brand is not very known here in the US, it is a very popular product in the pacific, including China. Counterfeiters have taken advantage of this popularity and are starting to sell them.
Now another challenge has hit the group marketing its fruit under the BiteRiot brand, with a number of counterfeit BiteRiot boxes of cherries uncovered in China.
Caernarvon Cherry Company general manager Allan Bramble says the origin of the fruit is actually unknown. “It’s pretty easy to see the difference between ours and the counterfeit product,” he said.
The small volume of the counterfeit haul leads Mr Bramble to believe it was an opportunistic attempt to cash in on the renowned Australian brand. “I think it’s someone that’s seen the BiteRiot brand top the China market a couple of times last year and they’ve just obviously taken advantage of that.”
The small volume is most likely a test of the counterfeiters first product. They will get feedback and improve. While the company is getting a hit in revenue, the biggest hit will be from customers who did not know they just ate a fake BiteRiot fruit. They will just believe this is BiteRiot lowering quailty, or their transportation system is slow resulting in a bad / spoiled product.
So what is BiteRiot to do?
That is a tough question because a fruit company is so much different then most brands. The company will have to increase costs to combat the fakes which will result in higher fruit prices. Since food is highly competitive, the company cannot do that. A single 1 cent increase in cost per apple can effect revenue hard when you are selling a low margin item and tens of thousands of them. Food is one of those sectors where it is difficult to fight counterfeits. Fruit looks the same. The only thing that BiteRiot can do is educate customers to look out for fake products by looking at the box the fruit comes in. If BiteRiot were a media company or a retailer, brand protection would be a lot easier.
Maybe they should pull their product from China all together like David Blackmore, of Blackmore Wagyu Beef did.
Victorian producer David Blackmore, of Blackmore Wagyu Beef, has been selling his product to high-end restaurants in China for several years, but has recently become aware of counterfeit products being passed off as his beef, which fetches a premium price.
Mr Blackmore says the potential damage to his brand reputation, from lesser quality rip-offs, means he would rather pull out of the market.
“We sell beef to up to 20 countries, every month. Every piece of beef is sold before it’s actually processed. We’ve got more demand for our product that we can meet, so rather than damage the brand, we would pull out of China,” Mr Blackmore said.