How the printing industry can help crack counterfeit

Every year the global trade of counterfeit products costs companies millions of dollars and Australian businesses are not immune.

To help Australian businesses deal with the ever-present issue of counterfeit packaging and labelling, the team at Rawson Print Co, and its offshoot Rawson Packaging Co., have been working to stay ahead of the counterfeit practice.

RPCO account manager Lani Draheim felt so incensed by the issue that she wrote a thought piece on how the printing industry can harness printing technologies to stamp out counterfeit packaging.

“The stats paint a fairly bleak picture, making clear the seriousness of the issue and the need for all businesses who are involved in the supply chain to make a difference where they can,” Draheim said.

“We believe this calls for a proactive response from the printing industry, domestically.”

Becoming part of the solution

Draheim said the anti-counterfeiting technology that exists these days is impressive.

“For Rawson Packaging Co. (RPCo.) it’s been an interesting journey so far. We are strategically integrating our own anti-counterfeiting technology thereby providing another realm of value add for clients who’ve come to us for their printing and packaging needs,” she said.

“Both digital and offset solutions are available and we’re excited that in the longer term we will be able to assist a range of clients in this specialist area.”

Draheim said the anti-counterfeit service provision currently offered at RPCO are currently receiving strong take-up and she expects this will continue.

“A large proportion of enquiries are from Australian brands that are experiencing counterfeiting challenges on the ground in China,” she said.

“This points to the very real concerns that Australian brands are facing offshore alongside their global brand counterparts whose own issues tend to be the ones we hear about in the news.”

Draheim added that the most common sectors to be effected by counterfeit operations are electrical goods, fragrances, cosmetics, sneakers, fake batteries, telephone accessories, sunglasses, toothbrushes and personal care products.

“More and more brands are realising this isn’t a problem exclusive to the luxury market as mainstream perceptions would have you believe,” she said.

Technology will help win the battle

On the upside, technological advancements are making it harder for counterfeiters to succeed.

Draheim cited the use of invisible UV pigments combined with short runs as one strategy that builds an anti-counterfeiting line of defence.

The other is Near Field Communication (NFC) and QR Codes, which are methods that brand owners can use to assist consumers ensure the product they are purchasing is the real deal.

“These methods lead to a building of consumer trust in their chosen brand. RPCo. is set up to offer NFC technology to clients, a process that involves placing individual stickers on the inside of each carton, thereby making each unique,” she said.

Draheim said QR Codes were invented in 1994 for the Japanese automotive industry and many years since have spent asking what their use is exactly.

“The anti-counterfeiting industry has this one wrapped up,” Draheim said.

“QR Codes now work with Secure Graphics, a technology which is embedded into a digital image of a QR code, making it secure against copying/counterfeit.”

Microchip technology is another example of how to bust counterfeit operations. Draheim mentioned that Australian wine brand Seppeltsfield has been using this technology. It involves a microchip being embedded into the wine bottle label with authentication of the product then deliverable to the consumer via an app.

Draheim said all of these measures mean there are vast opportunities within the printing industry to play an active role in stamping out counterfeit.

“This undoubtedly presents an opportunity for the industry to supply and integrate technology into products locally. However, for everyday consumer goods, it’s not economically viable for many brands to afford the price of silicon-based electronics, therefore creating a swell of demand for lower-cost anti-counterfeiting technology,” she said.

Draheim said to answer this, a raft of other innovations have popped up.

“Holograms are another great example of this and are becoming increasingly more widespread in the manufacturing sector,” she said.

“3D Verification, Serialisation ID technology and thin film technology applicable to packaging, labelling, plastic and metal products are all anti-counterfeiting solutions that brands are using. In all of these, printing capabilities are required.”

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