Tasmanian cherry grower Reid Fruits has seen a dramatic decline in product counterfeiting over the past three export seasons to Asia, as a result of a Smart Fingerprint solution developed by brand authentication technologist Laava, in collaboration with Peacock Bros.
The Laava Smart Fingerprint provided Reid Fruits with a secure on-product gateway for brand protection and consumer engagement
"Counterfeiting is a massive issue for us, as well as for countless other Australian fresh fruit producers," said Tim Reid, managing director, Reid Fruits.
"The Smart Fingerprint technology offers a level of secure authentication that will make it extremely difficult for counterfeiters to replicate."
Reid Fruits has been applying Laava’s patented Smart Fingerprint technology on its cherry boxes for 20 export markets from the 2019-20 picking season.
Reid Fruits went from experiencing potentially thousands of counterfeits per season, to having 10 cases automatically stopped by the Laava platform in 2019-20, and only three in 2020-21 – a 60 per cent reduction over the previous year.
"The fact that Reid Fruits has experienced such a dramatic decline in product counterfeiting activity demonstrates the direct benefit of the Smart Fingerprint technology," said Gavin Ger, Laava’s CEO, who spoke recently at the AUSPACK Leaders Forum on this topic.
"Not only does this identify instances of fraudulent activity, but counterfeiters soon realise that their actions will not go unnoticed if they try to copy Reid Fruits packaging to leverage their strong market reputation with a substituted and inferior product."
Laava Smart Fingerprints are printed by Peacock Bros. using digital label printing and finishing technologies. The Smart Fingerprints use images that are uniquely generated to each individual product, and use proprietary optical scanning technology, making them much more secure than a QR code.
When a counterfeit Reid Fruits cherry box featuring a counterfeited Laava Smart Fingerprint is scanned by the consumer, a ‘Suspected Counterfeit’ message will be displayed on the consumer’s Smartphone screen, alerting them to the product not being authentic, along with support information from Reid Fruits.
"Peacock Bros. is excited to be supporting Laava in disrupting the business model of counterfeiters with an innovative solution that combines advanced digital printing technologies," said Ryan McGrath, group managing director at Peacock Bros.
"With consumers and brand owners across the Asia-Pacific region becoming increasingly concerned about authenticity, solutions that validate products and limit counterfeit goods in the supply chain will enhance buyer confidence and help protect brand reputation and integrity.
"Securing products at item level provides us with the framework for implementing emerging technologies such as connected packaging solutions that provide advancements in consumer engagement (through AR), product track and trace capabilities, and sustainability improvements within the supply chain."
In the 2021-22 season, Smart Fingerprints were incorporated onto over 400,000 Reid Fruits cherry boxes, bound for 20 global markets. A significant number of those boxes were sent to China, one of the company’s largest export markets and also the destination where the Australian business has historically encountered significant counterfeit challenges.
"This is a product that goes from a tree to fridge in three days and commands a premium of $200 for two kilos," said Ger.
"People are paying for a lot behind that brand that signifies quality, freshness, and authenticity. If you are buying a $200 box of cherries you want to be sure of a lot of things, and we are finding in many cases people also want to know the backstory to the product.
"A team mantra at Lavaa is: give them a reason to scan. Telling a story is interesting up to a point, but what is becoming more popular is if they can win something, learn something new, or even receive things like awards and NFTs. But just putting a code on a box won’t get it scanned. You’ve got to give them a reason."
"Chinese consumers in particular are aware of issues associated with product counterfeiting, and have a very strong appetite for product information and brand narratives that allow them to connect directly with Australian producers," Reid said.
When consumers scan a Smart Fingerprint, they not only get a guarantee of the product’s authenticity, but the digital platform also provides engaging content Reid Fruits can educate buyers on the product they have purchased, as well as providing the ability to serve up special offers and social media integration.
"Reid Fruits brand is a leader in the premium cherry market in Asia, and is now leveraging Laava’s unique combination of brand trust, product traceability and digital storytelling capabilities," said Ger.
"All of this was enabled cost effectively and with incredibly high quality by Peacock Bros. digital label printing capabilities – and critically – was easy for Reid Fruits seasonal staff to apply to their existing cartons, with no changes to operational processes, and no new technology."