The Scotch Whisky Research Institute has supplied samples as lab-based trials of the technology get underway; it allows liquids to be checked for authenticity without opening a bottle.
Such technology could save the whisky industry alone an estimated £500m+ annual loss due to counterfeiting, where industry estimates attribute this figure to the six leading whisky producers alone.
The scanning technique relies on detecting the differences between the characteristics of light reflected from printed packaging. The technology under development was originally developed to spot counterfeit medicines.
Lift-off in two years?
Tim Maskell, knowledge transfer manager of the Space Research Centre at University of Leicester told FoodManufacture.co.uk that assuming that everything went to plan he anticipated “having a product ready for market within the next two years or so.”
But Maskell added that it would be several months before academics were in a position to undertake in-field trials with drinks manufacturers.
The new £71,000 research project is being part-funded by a £50,000 grant from Food and Drink iNet, which co-ordinates supports for the food and drink sector in the East Midlands.
However, the academics need an additional £250,000 to complete the development, plus working capital for any full market launch.