Aussie technology protects wines from counterfeiters

Tuesday, 16 June, 2020

An Australian-developed technology called eBottli has the potential to defend Australia’s wine export industry against the global trade in counterfeit wines.

The anti-counterfeit technology solution provides a suite of 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, the solution is designed to help ensure a wine’s authenticity and helps address the issue of brand trust for Australian exports — a considerable issue in markets such as Asia.

Australia’s wine exports are currently valued at $1.25 billion, but counterfeit alcohol is a bigger business, with potential losses to the global industry due to counterfeits estimated to reach $4.3 trillion by 2022. In China, some experts claim around 50% of wine over $35 is fake, and up to 70% of bottles sold are fraudulent. This is a problem for Australian wine exporters, reeling from bushfires, drought and the threat of a post-COVID trade war with China.

Founded by Adelaide-based Nathalie Taquet, eBottli is working with 12 clients across Australia, including vineyards in the wine regions of McLaren Vale and the Barossa Valley in South Australia. Premium artisan wine labels can be particularly vulnerable to export fraud.

“It’s quite unbelievable the extent that wine counterfeiters will go to. 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,” Taquet said.

“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. 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 said.

Image credit: Bottli

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