Customs authorities across the EU seized 5m more counterfeit items in 2015 than the previous year, intercepting almost 41m articles.
That represents a 15 per cent increase on the number of items seized in 2014, according to new figures released today by the European Commission, which says the total value of goods seized also swelled from €617m to €642m.
As in prior years, cigarettes were the top category in terms of the number of articles seized, accounting for 27 per cent of the total, with toys also featuring highly at 9 per cent, just behind a catch-all 'other goods' category at 10 per cent. Labels, tags and stickers entered the top five with 8% of the total, while foodstuffs came in at 7 per cent.
Worryingly, everyday products which could be dangerous to the health and safety of consumers - such as food and beverages, toiletries, medicines, toys and household electrical goods - accounts jointly for more than a quarter of the total.
Once again, China was the main originating country for counterfeit goods (41 per cent of the total), but drilling down into the data reveals a number of 'hot spots' for certain product categories.
Benin was the originating country for a large amount of foodstuffs, while Mexico was the top source for counterfeit alcoholic beverages and Morocco for other beverages, says the EC report.
Meanwhile, Malaysia was in the lead for toiletries, Turkey for clothing, and Hong Kong for counterfeit mobile phones and accessories, memory cards, computer equipment, CDs and DVDs and lighters. Montenegro took pole position on counterfeit cigarettes, while India topped the list for fake medicines.
There were large increases in seizures compared to 2014 for foodstuffs, other body care items, sunglasses, handbags, ink cartridges and toners, vehicles accessories, office stationery, lighters, labels and packaging material. A significant decrease was seen for alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages, other shoes, jewellery, CD/DVDs, other tobacco products and medicines, says the report.
Pierre Moscovici, Commissioner for Economic and Financial Affairs, Taxation and Customs, said: "The criminal activity which swamps our internal market with fake and illegal products shows no sign of abating."
"The Commission will continue to work with customs authorities, international partners and industry to ensure a high level of protection for intellectual property rights in the EU."