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To curb the growing menace of counterfeit brands, FMCG companies ITC and Coca-Cola India, along with the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (Ficci), are planning to take stringent steps in the next few months.
To start with, Ficci's committee against smuggling and counterfeiting activities destroying the economy (CASCADE) has initiated a pan-India movement against smuggling and counterfeiting amongst youth and consumers.
“We are organising the first policy debate of an international level next fortnight in Delhi. Our objective is to enhance our understanding of ‘grey markets’ for smuggled, counterfeit and pirated commercial goods in and outside India, to assess their impact, and to promote effective strategies,” said Anil Rajput, chairman of Ficci CASCADE.
Currently, Ficci CASCADE’s committee members include, FMCG companies such as Hindustan Unilever (HUL), Dabur India, Nivea, ITC and Coca-Cola India among others.
While ITC and Coca-Cola have joined hands with Ficci, Parle Agro, makers of Frooti, Jyothy Laboratories (JLL) and Parle Products (Glucose G) are independently tackling the issue with their own strategic plans.
Ficci CASCADE has just released a study that points out that the overall loss to the government due to counterfeit brands in 2012 stands at Rs 16,546 crore in the Indian FMCG sector alone.
“Based on this grey market estimation the loss to the government annually is Rs 4,646 crore in personal care, Rs 5,660 crore in packaged goods and Rs 6,240 crore in tobacco product,” according to the survey.
According to Rajput, Ficci’s new initiative will look at the economic consequences of mass counterfeiting, piracy and smuggling and the policies needed to deter this activity.
“Discussions will provide an interdisciplinary dialogue to attract industry regulators, state agencies, customs authorities, law enforcement agencies and consumer associations and NGOs,” he said.
Parle Agro is handling all matters with regards to counterfeit products directly through its legal team. “Our sales and marketing team identify these copy cat brands first. Then our legal team swings into action,” Parle Agro joint MD Nadia Chauhan Kurup said.
Like Parle Agro, Parle Products, makers of Parle Glucose biscuits, is relying on its legal department to tackle this issue. “Our sales personnel first identify these copy cat brands and bring it the notice of our legal team,” Parle Products general manager Praveen Kulkarni said.
On the other hand, Jyothy Laboratories conducts regular raids and take criminal action against imitating brands. “We also focus on tamper proof packaging , new designs, aggressive distributions to fight this issue. We deploy more people on streets to identify these counterfeit brands and take legal action against these culprits,” Jyothy Laboratories joint managing director Ullas Kamath said.
Since its launch in 2011, Ficci CASCADE has undertaken many activities which include, consumer education and awareness campaign on the risks posed by counterfeit and pirated goods.’’ A Pan Indian series of consultation launched by Ficci CASCADE has further been successful in initiating a stakeholder debate in ten states of India so far on this issue and various recommendations have been draw,” said Naina Lal Kidwai, president of Ficci.
According to Kidwai, Ficci CASCADE is co-opting the youth of the country through youth festivals to build a movement against smuggling and counterfeiting to address the mindset and emphasis on the seriousness of the hazards of counterfeit goods in the minds of an average consumer.