Counterfeits of famous French wines have inundated China’s wine market to the point where there are “more counterfeited French wines in China than non-counterfeited ones, and the situation is getting worse,” according to a French foreign ministry trade report.
In fact, the situation is so bad that the Chinese government will officially recognize 45 Bordeaux wines that have the prestigious French AOC certification, recognizing French origin.
By recognizing these labels, the Chinese government has given French exporters “additional means to defend these names before a Chinese court,” said Stéphane Le Foll, the French minister of agriculture.
French wines are counterfeited in China more than wines from other countries because of its prestige and price tag. Thanks to a 48 percent tax, the price tag is so high that importers and distributors are making counterfeits to sell their goods at a lower price and attract more consumers.
The rise of internet shopping has also increased the flow of French counterfeit wines throughout China. Thanks to sites like Alibaba (a Chinese site closely resembling Amazon), buyers can unknowingly purchase counterfeit wines in as few as two clicks.
The recognition of French labels by the Chinese government will only ease French exporters’ efforts to track down counterfeiters. One French company, Pernod-Richard, already raids about 10,000 Chinese vendors every year in search of counterfeits, in accordance with its “zero tolerance” policy. Such rigidity is expected, as French exports of wine and spirits to China is an 832-million-euro business.