The role of labelling in anti-counterfeiting

Ongoing developments in labelling technology are playing a major role in keeping one step ahead of the counterfeiters.

Counterfeiting is a major problem

It is estimated that the UK loses more than £6.4bn each year due to counterfeit and pirated goods, according to research from the European Union’s intellectual property office.

It is a major problem, not only in the UK and Europe but worldwide, that endangers the health and safety of consumers; costs companies massively in terms of lost revenue and damage to their brand; and ultimately promotes and funds crime and the black market.

Counterfeit medicines

One area where counterfeiting has become a serious problem both in developed and developing countries is the pharmaceutical sector, where the use of fake packaging and labelling is widespread.

According to Interpol, during a worldwide blitz on counterfeit pharmaceuticals in 2015, a record 20.7 million fake and illicit medicines were seized, including blood pressure medication, erectile dysfunction pills, cancer medication and nutritional supplements. More than 2,410 websites were also taken offline.

Fake food

Another area where counterfeiting and the use of false labelling and packaging is a major problem is the food sector. It is an issue that is reckoned to cost producers tens of billions of dollars a year, as counterfeiters pass off substandard and often dangerous foodstuffs as branded products.

Earlier this year, for example, it was reported that suspected fake Nestle and Knorr products were being produced from a number of factories in China, where conditions were unclean and high levels of regulated substances, such as artificial sweetener sodium cyclamate, were being used.

And last year more than 10,000 tonnes and one million litres of hazardous fake food and drink were seized in operations across 57 countries in an Interpol-Europol coordinated initiative. The seizures included nearly nine tonnes of counterfeit sugar contaminated with fertilizer in Khartoum, Sudan and the recovery in Italy of more than 85 tonnes of olives which had been ‘painted’ with copper sulphate solutions to enhance their colour.

Ongoing developments in labelling technology

While the scale of the problem and the audacity of the counterfeiters is breath-taking, companies are fighting back. In our sector ongoing developments in labelling technology are playing a major role in keeping one step ahead of the criminals.

Examples of the technologies Denny Bros can incorporate into its labelling solutions include: print features, such as deliberate print ‘hickies’ that counterfeiters will struggle to replicate or microtext that is almost invisible to the human eye and may go unnoticed by those looking to replicate labels.

We can also employ radio frequency identification (RFID) tags and QR codes to add an extra layer of security, while the addition of cold foiling and holograms are other hard to replicate print features that deter counterfeiters.

Void material, which shows when a label has been tampered with can also be used to protect products.

Clients can use one of these technologies or a combination depending on their needs.

If you are troubled by concerns around security and counterfeiting, then please contact us on email: or telephone: +44 (0) 1284 701381.