Illicit tobacco tops 2019 UK Trading Standards workload

Cigarettes and tobacco were the most reported counterfeit goods in the UK in 2019/20, according to local authority data reported by the Intellectual Property Office (IPO) and IP Crime Office.

86 per cent of Trading Standards authorities who participated in the latest IPO survey said they had investigated cigarettes/tobacco cases, followed by clothing (81 per cent) and alcohol and footwear – both at 47 per cent in the last financial year.

The locations for counterfeit goods sales also reveal a trend away from traditional locations like street markets. While ordinary shops were the most common location investigated – reported by 75 per cent of authorities – social media featured in almost two thirds (67 per cent) and with websites and auction sites at 39 per cent and 38 per cent, respectively.

All told, 41 per cent of investigations involved private residences, which ties in with 2019 data from the OECD/IPO which found that more than the half of the counterfeit and pirated goods imported into the UK in 2016 were sold to consumers who were aware they were buying fake products. Less than a third of cases involved street vendors and outdoor markets.

“It is notable that authorities have demonstrated links with organised criminal groups in over 35 per cent of submissions,” says the report, which says online streaming services and set top boxes remain a key area of criminal activity.

Counterfeiting of cosmetics and perfumery seems fairly consistent, but levels for medicinal products are on the rise – likely a consequence of the COVID-19 pandemic.

NEW! - Fake Products. Is the Nutraceutical Industry Prepared?

The nutraceutical industry is being deluged by fake products. Learn how to protect your supply chain from counterfeiting and diversion.

Other trends pointed out in the report include greater use of self-storage facilities by transgressors – both to sore illicit goods, serve as addresses for front companies and as retail outlets – as well as an increase in the production of counterfeit goods within the UK, rather than traditional sources like China.

Members in the Anti-Counterfeiting Group (ACG) trade association reported increasing numbers of physical products entering the UK by air, sea and road, from countries such as China, Hong Kong, India, Pakistan, Turkey, Singapore, Macedonia, Thailand and Malaysia during 2019.

The use of the UK as a stop off point for counterfeit goods destined for other European countries and beyond, is of growing concern, says the ACG, particularly as government funding for border force operations has declined, limiting the number of shipments that can be intercepted.

Meanwhile, there is growing evidence that sophisticated counterfeit networks are selling high quality counterfeits at close to full price, leading consumers to believe they are purchasing genuine goods.

“Facebook and Instagram continue to be a focus for brand protection teams as they mitigate risks to consumers presented by unsafe counterfeit goods,” according to the report.

“Other platforms such as Twitter, Gumtree, Amazon and Alibaba are also favourites for counterfeiters, who use the worldwide reach of such platforms to facilitate sales of their infringing products.”

Related articles:

     Want our news sent directly to your inbox?

Yes please 2


Home  |  About us  |  Contact us  |  Advertise  |  Links  |  Partners  |  Privacy Policy  |   |  RSS feed   |  back to top