Winemaker tests NFC label to deter counterfeiting

Ferngrove bottle authenticationAustralia's Ferngrove Wines will road-test an anti-counterfeit tag based on near-field communication (NFC) technology and printed electronics.

The 'smart' wine bottle has been developed using an OpenSense NFC tag developed by Norway's ThinFilm Electronics - which recently announced a deal with Diageo to protect its Johnnie Walker spirit brand - and an electronic pedigree (ePedigree) architecture developed by Austria's G World Group.

Chinese-owned Ferngrove is a major exporter of wines to the Asia-Pacific region, where counterfeiting of wine is known to be a major problem, and sends 600,000 bottles to China alone every year for distribution via more than 50 retail outlets.

Reliable data on the amount of counterfeit wine in the country is unavailable, although some estimates put the proportion to be as high as 50 per cent compared to a global 'average' of around 20 per cent.

“Winemakers and retailers currently are in need of a cost-effective and scalable means to track and confirm the authenticity of individual wine bottles across the supply chain, said Thinfilm's chief commercial officer Kai Leppänen.

"This gap in the current solution set gives counterfeiters an upper hand."

Real-time processing specialist G World has placed a "seven-figure" order for OpenSense tags, says ThinFilm, and the three partners will shortly start a six-month field trial to put the technology through its paces prior to a possible commercial-scale roll-out.

The anti-counterfeit tag will be "seamlessly incorporated into the current logistics of bottling, labelling and packaging for export," according to G World and allow authentication of individual bottles throughout the supply chain, ensuring they are packaged, shipped, stocked and purchased in their original factory-sealed state.

"The G World system is designed to enhance trade and productivity for industry," said the company's managing director Grant Shaw.

"One of the significant outcomes is an anti-counterfeit framework that provides transparency and accountability at all stages of the supply chain," he continued, adding that  this will enhance the recently-agreed Free Trade Agreement initiatives between Australia and China which include "a commitment to help facilitate electronic commerce and trade through a streamlined customs and logistics process."

A demonstration of the system is being given on Friday July 17 at the Mobile World Congress (MWC) Shanghai 2015.

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