Article published on news.com.au
A blatant imitation of one of Australia’s most famous exports is being sold in China as the country ramps up its unofficial trade war.
Controversy has risen as poor imitations of Australia’s famed Penfolds wine have appeared on shelves in China amid the Beijing trade war.
Poor imitations of Australia’s famous Penfolds wine are appearing on shelves in China, sparking an investigation from the company that owns the brand.
Huge tariffs imposed by China on Australian products have seen the export of wine to the country all but stop, but it appears the market for knock-off Aussie wines is thriving.
Twitter user, Paddy Fok, uploaded a photo of the knock-off bottles after he saw them in a store in the Hainan province.
“Spotted in Hainan. Must admit I have never come across these Australian labels!” he wrote.
The bottles have same red and white label and font used by Penfolds, but instead bear the names ‘Penfunils’ and ‘Benfords’.
Penfunils is one of the knock-off brands. Picture: Paddy Fok/TwitterSource:Twitter / Some of the other imitation bottles are called Benfords. Picture: Paddy Fok/TwitterSource:Twitter
Treasury Wine Estates, the company that owns Penfolds, said the counterfeit items were being investigated.
“We take any infringement of our Penfolds brand very seriously and we continue to make significant investments in our brand protection program across markets including China,” a spokesperson for the company said.
“Our team will be investigating this case further.”
Bottles of the Benfords wine are also being sold on popular online Chinese shopping platform, Pinduoduo.
The website offers a long list of imitation and counterfeit goods, which has previously resulted in an investigation by Chinese regulators and caused the company to be placed on a blacklist by the US Trade Representative’s Office.
An employee for the company behind the Benfords wine, Shujianxiang Liquor Store, told the ABC that the company had no relationship with Penfolds but still claimed the wine was from Australia’s Barossa Valley.
Despite this, some of their branding online uses the word ‘Penfolds’ and ‘Ben Fu’ the registered Chinese trademark for the Penfolds brand.
The labels on the knock-off wines look very similar to the genuine Penfolds bottles.Source:News Corp Australia
It comes as Chinese authorities busted a fake Penfolds operations worth $26 million last month.
It is believed the scheme, which used bottles made to look like they were genuine Penfolds products, was operating for three years before being brought down.
Workshops were raided in Guandong, Jiangsu, Zhejiang, Yunnan and Guangxi provinces, as well as Shanghai, after a long-running investigation.
“Treasury Wine Estates works closely with authorities on any investigations like this,” a spokesperson said.
Last year, China slapped Australian wine with import tariffs of up to 212 per cent after Chinese investigators alleged producers were dumping wine into the Chinese market to drive down prices.
It is one of the many crippling tariffs China has imposed on Aussie exports in recent months, with Beijing being accused of taking these measures to punish Australia calling for a global investigation into the origin of coronavirus.
In December last year, the Australian Federal Government announced it would refer China to the World Trade Organisation (WTO) over the barley tariffs.
“This is the logical and appropriate next step for Australia to take,” Trade Minister Simon Birmingham said at the time.
“We are highly confident that based on the evidence, data, and analysis that we have put together already, Australia has an incredibly strong case to mount in relation to defending the integrity and propriety of our grain growers and barley producers.”