Police in China’s central Zhengzhou city have busted 50,000 bottles of fake Penfolds worth over RMB 18 million (US$2.8m) – the biggest haul of counterfeit Penfolds – just five months after 14,000 knock-offs were seized in Shanghai last November, highlighting the scale of counterfeits in the Chinese mainland market.
The crime ring has been producing fake Penfolds since April last year, police said, however what makes this crime ring different from previous busts is that the gang has developed a “sophisticated network” of production and distribution, and seems to have only targeted Penfolds premium wines that sell between RMB 500 (US$80) and RMB 8,000 (US$1,269).
The wines, according to Chinese media reports, are sold through the ring’s own stores and online shops to cities in Beijing, Shanghai, Henan, Hebei, and Zhejiang.
It’s reported that they have already sold more than 3,000 cases of wines worth about RMB 5 million (US$) through its distribution network. It’s unknown if the wines sold have been recalled or not.
TWE’s CEO Michael Clarke has previously declared a war on copycat Penfolds in China, following TWE’s lawsuit in Australia against Rush Rich, a company that reverse-translated Penfolds’ Chinese name Ben Fu (奔富), which is literally translated as ‘rush or chase rich/wealth’.
In an ealier interview, Clarke stated his determination to stamp out the “nonsense” of fake Penfolds from the market.
Penfolds is among one of the most popular wine brands that are “greatly abused” in the mainland market, David Lucas, regional general manager of Greater China for Wine Australia, remarked earlier last week at a Vinexpo event.
In a post posted by TWE on its Chinese WeChat, the company praised the local police work on clamping down fake wines, and added that the group is going to step up its efforts to protect its intellectual property rights in mainland China and work closely with local police to protect consumer rights.
Australian wines led by popular brands such as Penfolds and Yellow Tail, have grown in popularity on the mainland, which in the past few years has already become Australia’s most important wine market.