Spain, hardest hit by counterfeit alcohol sales

EU Intellectual Property Office estimates that the sector is losing millions of euros a year to fake products

Counterfeit wine means losses for legitimate producers in Spain.
Counterfeit wine means losses for legitimate producers in Spain.EFE
Laura Delle Femmine

Spain is the EU country that is most seriously affected by the underground production of counterfeit wine and other alcoholic beverages.

Every year, local producers lose €263 million on account of all the fake products introduced into the market.

This trend affects sales but also jobs and tax revenues, notes the EU’s Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO) in its 8th report on the economic costs of fake products, which was released on Tuesday.

In Spain, losses are in the region of €173 million for alcoholic beverages and €90 million for wine

The study estimates that legitimate producers in the EU lose up to €1.3 billion a year to fake alcoholic drinks, representing 3.3% of all sales.

In Spain, which is hardest hit in absolute terms, losses are in the region of €173 million for alcoholic beverages and €90 million for wine.

Spain is followed by Italy, Germany and France in terms of losses caused by counterfeit drinks. In the United Kingdom, losses are lower than the EU average, and estimated at €87 million.

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Between 2008 and 2013, the European market for alcoholic drinks accounted for €22 billion in annual sales, according to the report. Exports to non-EU countries reached €8 billion, compared with €1 billion in imports.

As for wine, Spain is one of Europe's three main producers along with France and Italy; together they represent 80% of production in the EU.

Spain is also the country with the largest number of specialized businesses (3,700), compared with 1,800 in Italy and 1,500 in France.

Fake food and drinks affect the EU in many ways, from lower sales to job destruction. Spain heads the list of countries with the biggest job losses in absolute terms (around 1,000 workers), followed by Romania, Bulgaria and France.

Counterfeit production is difficult to detect and its economic impact hard to assess. In the case of wine and alcoholic beverages, EUIPO estimates that the direct and indirect effects of the drop in sales came out to an annual average of €3 billion for the 2008-2013 period across the EU.

The report also notes that states lose millions as a result of unpaid VAT or Social Security contributions. In Spain, these losses are estimated at €90 million, below those in Britain and France.

English version by Susana Urra.

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