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Fake Bordeaux in China being made on offshore boats, says official

At least half the Chateau Lafite sold in China is fake and, like other high end Bordeaux counterfeits, probably made on boats moored in international waters off the mainland coast, a senior Chinese government official has said.

China still has a serious problem with counterfeits, warn officials.

Speaking on the side lines of a conference in Bordeaux to launch a new Chinese government anti-fraud effort called PEOP, Xinshi Li, president of the Chinese Academy of Inspection and Quarantine (CAIQ), described the problem of fake Bordeaux wine in China as ‘very serious’.

Over the last few years, China has become the biggest market for Bordeaux’s wines, accounting for almost of 20% of the area’s wine exports by volume in 2013.

Although Li said he had no idea how many boats were used as faking stations, he described their existence as one of the most shocking aspects of the counterfeiting sector. Their modus operandi is to use low-end wine to make high-end fakes for exorbitant profit, he said.

To tackle the problem of fake wines, and other counterfeit food products, the Chinese government has launched an initiative to label authentic products with a PEOP – which stands for Protected Eco–origin Product – label. Products bearing the label offer consumers a Chinese government guarantee of authenticity and traceability.

It is the latest sign that Chinese authorities are focusing more attention on traceability in wine.

Bordeaux producers who want their wines to carry the PEOP label must first be certified by the Chinese government, explained the CEO of Advanced Track and Trade (ATT), Jean-Pierre Massicot. Massicot’s company has been brought on board by the Chinese government as an interlocutor between them and French wine producers who wish to join the PEOP scheme.

ATT will help producers with the certification process and then distribute the required number of PEOP labels. The labels have a number of visible and invisible codes, as well as a Quick Response Code that consumers can flash with their phones. Chinese customs officials will also be able to check the codes, which could speed up market entry times for PEOP labelled wines.

The cost of joining the PEOP scheme is currently being negotiated, Massicot said, adding that about a dozen French producers have already signaled their intention to sign up.

Written by Sophie Kevany in Bordeaux

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