Counterfeit products in the consumer industry are increasingly a cause for concern and impact negatively on businesses that are targeted by counterfeiters, says stainless steel and aluminium cookware manufacturer Hendler & Hart CEO Nash Soni.
Early in 2011, loyal customers of Hendler & Hart alerted the company that counterfeit products of the company’s Aloe stainless steel and Hart aluminium ranges were appearing on the market.
“These products are very similar to our products,” says Soni. “The packaging is exactly the same and this led to confusion among customers.
“It is our understanding that most of these products are being imported from China,” he adds.
Soni states that counterfeit products are damaging to a company’s reputation, as consumers do not get the quality they pay for and expect from what they believe is a trusted brand.
The company stresses that the difference between the counterfeit products and real Hendler & Hart products is that the counterfeit products are of low quality and cheaply manufactured.
In March 2010, Engineering News quoted the German Engineering Federation (VDM) as saying that worldwide product piracy was no longer a marginal phenome- non, but that the threat had been steadily increasing in recent years.
VDM said that this form of business crime cost companies an estimated €660-billion globally in 2010, representing 9% of world trade volumes. In the past, the main focus of imitators was on consumer goods but counterfeiters are increasingly also turning to industrial products, it stated.
Soni says regulations in South Africa do not provide adequate support to ensure that companies’ products are not counterfeited.
Hendler & Hart is currently working with the stainless steel and aluminium federa- tions to try to involve government, which the company says has not been very helpful in protecting businesses from this type of fraud.
Further, Soni says the company is training customs officials as well as border police to recognise the difference between locally manufactured Hendler & Hart products and the imported counterfeit products.
“Importing counterfeit products has significant negative effects for the local economy as it leads to revenue losses, job losses and, in extreme cases, even company closures as South Africa manufactures less of the local, fully South African original product and more cheap imitations are imported into the country,” says Soni.
He adds that businesses and government need to improve tariff protection measures to ensure that counterfeit products are not brought into South Africa.
Southern Africa Stainless Steel Development Association (Sassda) executive director Bill Scurr adds that Hendler & Hart is not the only member of the association that is currently combating counterfeit products.
“This is a growing problem in the industry, which needs to be dealt with so companies can compete on a level playing field.”
Sassda is assisting members of the association’s consumerware, hospitality and catering sector in raising these matters at government level so that local companies can be heard and the counterfeiting of South African products stopped.