Decline in counterfeit cherries after digital fingerprinting
Tasmanian cherry grower Reid Fruits says there's been a dramatic decline in counterfeit products for its cherries over the past three export seasons to Asia because of digital fingerprinting.
The Laava SmartFingerprint solution is developed by brand authentication technologists Laava, in collaboration with digital printing specialist Peacock Bros.
Reid Fruits managing director Tim Reid says counterfeiting is a massive issue for the company, as well as countless other Australian fresh fruit producers.
“The Smart Fingerprint technology offers a level of secure authentication that will make it extremely difficult for counterfeiters to replicate,” he says.
Reid Fruits has been applying Laava's patented Smart Fingerprint technology on its cherry boxes for 20 export markets from the 2019-20 picking season. The fruit exporter went from experiencing potentially thousands of counterfeits per season to having 10 cases automatically stopped by the Laava service in 2019-20, and only three in 2020-21 – a 60% reduction over the previous year.
Laava's CEO Gavin Ger says the fact that Reid Fruits has experienced a decline in product counterfeiting activity demonstrates the direct benefit of the Smart Fingerprint technology.
“Not only does this identify instances of fraudulent activity, but counterfeiters soon realise that their actions will not go unnoticed if they try to copy Reid Fruits packaging to leverage their strong market reputation with a substituted and inferior product,” he says.
In the 2021-22 season, Reid Fruits incorporated Smart Fingerprints onto over 400,000 cherry boxes, bound for 20 global markets. A significant number of those boxes were sent to China, one of the company's largest export markets and a destination where the Australian business has historically encountered significant counterfeit challenges.
“Chinese consumers in particular are aware of issues associated with product counterfeiting and have a very strong appetite for product information and brand narratives that allow them to connect directly with Australian producers,” says Reid.
Laava Smart Fingerprints are digitally printed by Peacock Bros. using state-of-the-art digital label printing and finishing technologies. The Smart Fingerprints use images that are uniquely generated for each product and use proprietary optical scanning technology, making them much more secure than a QR code.
When the consumer scans a counterfeit Reid Fruits cherry box featuring a counterfeited Laava Smart Fingerprint, a ‘Suspected Counterfeit' message pops up on the consumer's Smartphone screen, alerting them to the product not being authentic, along with support information from Reid Fruits.
In addition, when consumers scan a Smart Fingerprint, the digital platform also provides the space for engaging content that educates buyers on the product they have purchased, as well as the ability to serve up special offers and social media integration.
Peacock Bros. group managing director Ryan McGrath says he's excited to be supporting Laava in disrupting the business model of counterfeiters with an innovative solution that combines advanced digital printing technologies.
“With consumers and brand owners across the Asia-Pacific region becoming increasingly concerned about authenticity, solutions that validate products and limit counterfeit goods in the supply chain will enhance buyer confidence and help protect brand reputation and integrity,” he says.
“Securing products at item level provides us with the framework for implementing emerging technologies such as connected packaging solutions that provide advancements in consumer engagement (through augmented reality), product track and trace capabilities, and sustainability improvements within the supply chain.
“Reid Fruits brand is a leader in the premium cherry market in Asia, and is now leveraging Laava's unique combination of brand trust, product traceability and digital storytelling capabilities,” says Ger.
“All of this was enabled cost effectively and with incredibly high quality by Peacock Bros. digital label printing capabilities - and critically - was easy for Reid Fruits seasonal staff to apply to their existing cartons, with no changes to operational processes, and no new technology.