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Tasmanian cherry producer uses technology to combat rip-off merchants

Producers of Tasmania's highly sought-after export cherries are turning to technology and social media to combat low-grade fakes being sold in Asian markets.

For several years growers have been grappling with counterfeiting in Asia, where lower grade cherries from outside Australia are being packed in imitation boxes and labelled as Tasmanian-grown.

Reid Fruits business development manager Lucy Gregg said the fakes were being sold at the same price as authentic Tasmanian cherries, which are a delicacy in Asia and can fetch more than $50 per kilogram. "The consumers are paying top dollar for our product, so it's obviously very disheartening for them when they open the box and the product doesn't meet their expectations," she said.

This week Reid Fruits was alerted by its Asian importer to a box of cherries at a Hong Kong wholesale market that was emblazoned with its brand.

Ms Gregg said the fake carton was almost identical to the real thing, but was missing the sticker used to identify the authentic cherries. "Each year we put a unique sticker on the cartons which is quite intricate, it's often laser-cut," she said.

Reid has also started embellishing its cardboard packaging to make it harder to copy. "The box itself is embossed and also has gold foil, so it's quite an expensive box to produce and that is also a deterrent to the counterfeiters."

Producers accepted counterfeiting might never be stamped out but believe technology and consumer education will be their most effective weapons in reducing its impact.

(From ABC Rural - 5 January 2018)