Alcoholic beverage company tackles counterfeiting

Systech's brand protection solutions

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Photo - chuttersnap on Unsplash (for representation purpose only)

In India, the multinational alcoholic beverage company that manufactures 16 different top-shelf spirits from beer to whiskey, began experiencing high levels of counterfeiting, from bottle duplication to the refilling of spent bottles. The loss in revenue—and more importantly, the safety of consumers—became a major concern. This led the company to research brand protection solutions. The company (in question) is one of the largest distillers globally and currently distributes to over 180 countries.

UniSecure – Systech’s non-additive authentication solution

According to Systech, previously, the company had assessed numerous technologies, however none were deemed effective for its use case in terms of risk mitigation or permissible in terms of cost absorption. To ensure that both parameters were met, the company embarked on a new analysis of 15 different solutions, including overt, covert, and forensic technologies. The primary needs for a robust solution were – anti-copy protection, market surveillance options, ease of use, data analytics, engagement security, and cost-effectiveness.

These requirements lead to the adoption of UniSecure, Systech’s non-additive authentication solution powered by digital eFingerprint technology.

Once the decision was made to partner with Systech, the company launched a field study to document the utility of the program fully. A popular brand was chosen, and it was decided that the initial pilot would involve 1.5 million units belonging to one specific SKU.

Systech collaborated closely with the company to design the pilot study details. Collectively they determined that it was best to perform the eFingerprint process at the label supplier’s plant using the linear UPC barcode on the back label. From here, the eFingerprinted product labels were delivered to a chosen distillery and then authenticated via the Systech mobile application in the field.

Five inspectors conducted the field study through a random selection of products in the marketplace known to have been eFingerprinted by way of the batch number.

Systech stated that the results were deemed to be excellent in terms of both accuracy and response time. Products that were not eFingerprinted consistently returned a negative result, reinforcing that counterfeit labels will fail authentication, whereas labels on genuine products will be confirmed as authentic. Plus, the inspectors were able to check the authenticity in real-time with a quick scan using the Systech app on their smartphones.

A key feature of the UniSecure setup is that any barcode that cannot be adequately captured by the system will result in the winder unit’s instant stoppage so that the label can be rerun through or removed. This utility ensures that every product—and its associated barcode—entering the market has been adequately captured and stored in the Systech cloud.

Based on the successful pilot, the customer decided to proceed to production—with the first phase encompassing four major spirit brands in India. The company views UniSecure deployment as a major accomplishment toward its brand protection objectives that will elevate its supply chain partners’ confidence. A future program involving consumers is being considered to increase engagement and brand awareness.

According to Systech, the efficacy and robustness of the UniSecure platform have inspired the company to become an advocate for anti-counterfeiting in the Indian alcoholic beverage market. As a result, Systech is now working with several key influencers and government authorities to establish a broad framework for drastically reducing the trade in counterfeit liquor, beer, and wine.

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