‘Smart’ technology leads war against drinks fraud

By Noli Dinkovski

- Last updated on GMT

Smart technology is helping to screw the led on drinks fraud
Smart technology is helping to screw the led on drinks fraud

Related tags Food standards agency

Drinks’ producers are making considerable advances in the war against counterfeiting and the protection of their intellectual property (IP) rights, a leading lawyer in the field has claimed.

‘Smart bottle’ technology is complementing techniques such as logo marking and batch numbering to stave off the threat of fraud and provide reassurance to consumers that products are genuine, according to Ruth Walker, associate at Gill Jennings & Every.

“Whatever techniques are employed, making them visible to consumers can help to build brand trust in the marketplace, increasing the value of your IP,”​ she said.

Walker suggested the Internet of Things was starting to be added to the arsenal of anti-counterfeiting technologies available to food and drink producers and packagers.

Smart bottle technology

She pointed to the example of Thinfilm, a Norwegian printed electronics specialist, which has developed smart bottle technology for Diageo’s Johnnie Walker brand.

“The bottle labels incorporate extremely thin printed electronic sensors, which can detect if a bottle has been opened,”​ Walker said.

“Near-field communication tags, similar to those used for contactless payments, uniquely identify individual bottles in the supply chain.

“The tags remain active even after the factory seal has been broken and allow consumers to scan the bottles with their smartphones to verify authenticity and obtain additional product information.”

‘Verify authenticity’

Another emerging technique first seen in the biomedical industry is ultraviolet–visible absorbance spectroscopy, which can be used to identify the brand of spirits, and even the grade or distillery of origin.

“This illustrates how the food and drink industries are looking to existing technology in other fields for a quick route to high-tech solutions,”​ Walker said.

Whether you choose to protect your brand with high or low-tech solutions, and however you deal with any counterfeits that do make it onto the market, visibility is key, Walker claimed.

“At a time when consumers are well aware that their ‘beef’ burgers might contain horse, and ‘vodka’ might even be antifreeze, consumers need brands to make it very clear to them that products are the real thing,”​ she added.

Meanwhile, read how Andy Morling, head of the Food Standards Agency’s Food Crime Unit, discovered fraud to be widespread thoughout the food supply chain​ during his first year in the job.

Related topics Drinks

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