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3/4 of Latvians encountered fake food or are not sure of the opposite
11.02.2019

The drug verification system has already entered into force, and although, about 700,000 people die from counterfeit medicines annually in the world according to the WHO (World Health Organization)/ So this is by no means the only massively counterfeit product. Among food products, for example, orange juice, honey and truffle oil, as well as blueberries, milk, fish, saffron, olive oil, pomegranate juice and coffee are most often forged. At the same time, as many as 75% of Latvians encountered fake food or are not sure of the opposite. 

According to a survey conducted by the manufacturer of the flexible packaging IMMER Group, 25% of Latvians at least once faced with fake food, and 47% admit that this could well happen. At the same time, there is a relationship between the level of education and whether the buyer noticed that the product was forged. Among those who claim that they have never encountered fake food, 37% have no higher education, and among those who have found it or are not sure of the opposite, only 29% have no higher education. 


The danger of fake food is that it is completely unclear whats origin and quality they are. As a result, a person can become poisoned, become seriously ill, or even die. Of course, the Latvians face not only fakes of local origin, but also in Latvia, for example, forged coffee and sweets of famous brands. In Lithuania, inspectors of the State Food and Veterinary Service once detained 120 tons of meat of unknown origin. They regularly find frozen and salted fish, caviar, and there are cases of meat production in garages of private houses. In Estonia, five producers of ground meat were found to have poultry meat in their products, although this was not indicated on the label. Because of this, it is unclear what quality this meat is and whether it is dangerous for allergy sufferers. 


In 2013, the global market for counterfeit goods of all kinds — from food to clothing — already reached $0.8 trillion. Today, this figure has increased at least twice. “Due to counterfeit goods, European manufacturers suffer losses in the amount of 85 billion euros per year, which is 5% of the total imports. But it’s not even a loss for business, but the fact that it is a real risk to people's health,” says Irina Mirochnik, President of the IMMER Group. “According to the World Health Organization, about 700,000 people die annually from counterfeit medicines, and in Europe, pharmaceutical companies that suffer losses are forced to lay off tens of thousands of employees. This is a direct and terrible impact on people's lives, and the field of pharmacology is an example of only one industry.”


How to deal with it? Survey data showed that 32% of those who identified a fake identified it by the appearance of the packaging, which was different from the original. However, twice as many consumers (66%) realized that the product was fake, only to their taste — that is, not only did they pay for it, but could well have been poisoned by eating this product. “Fortunately, the issue with drugs has already been resolved — it is the turn of food. With the help of such simple technologies as, for example, protective inks, personalized printing or already familiar QR codes, everyone can take a product from the store shelf and make sure that it was actually produced by the manufacturer indicated on the package. There are less common forms of product protection — for example, pseudo-holograms, RFID- and DOT-codes, Track & Trace technology. All this only seems to be difficult, but in fact it is easily applied in everyday life and solves the problem of risks to the health and life of people,” emphasizes Irina Mirochnik.


Even today, buying steak or minced meat in the supermarket, you can see where the cow was grown, what it was fed, at what factory they processed the meat, how it was delivered. With the help of technological solutions, some producers of olive oil can provide data on the entire chain of production and processing of olives up to the store shelf. All this information regarding absolutely any product can be available to the consumer, and people have the right to know it when choosing products and goods. We must strive to ensure that every product has available details about it, to ensure that the product is safe.


Why are these technologies not yet common? The most common reasons for the increase in counterfeit volumes are high tariffs and taxes, globalization and low trade barriers, low investment in enterprises in defense of their own goods and high return on counterfeit. Even more fatal is the low level of legal protection at the international and national level (or even its complete absence), as well as the conscious purchase of counterfeit by consumers. Many seek to save money and buy a fake product, because they do not know about the possible health effects. Another reason why most of the goods are not yet equipped with verification technologies is the fear of companies to publicly admit that their products are being forged because it allegedly harms the reputation. However, it would be much better to openly admit this problem and provide solutions for its customers, allowing them to distinguish their products from counterfeit ones.