The seized counterfeit chocolate included western brands, such as Ferrero and Mars’ Dove, which had been sold to several candy stores at Changzhou City and Nanjing City in Eastern China for the past two years.
A police report showed that three people (names were not given) initially decided to start the counterfeit business when they found themselves in debt in 2014 and began producing the counterfeit chocolate at a residence building-turned facility in Wuhu City, Anhui Province.
They have made millions of dollars out of counterfeit chocolate so far, according to Chinese police, and eight people in total who are related to the business have been sentenced to jail for one to five years, along with a fine of nearly six million RMB ($0.9m).
Lunar New Year presents an important seasonal opportunity for candy companies, according to Chinese trade body, China Candy. Many Chinese newly-weds choose the holiday to host wedding ceremonies.
The latest data regarding the CMG (candy, mint and gum) seasonal sales from China Candy and Longxin Market Research firm shows that Mars and Ferrero chocolate products ranked first and second respectively in the category during the 2017 Lunar New Year.
Fake Ferrero in China goes way back
Tresor Dore, which was manufactured by the Chinese firm Montresor, was previously accused of resembling Ferrero packaging, and was often sold alongside “gold-wrapped” original products in domestic retailers.
After the Chinese Supreme Court in Beijing ordered Montresor to stop producing its chocolate and to pay Ferrero “symbolic damages” of £35,000 ($43,731) in 2008, the president of the Italian chocolate giant, Giovanni Ferrero, said in a statement, “It’s already hard for Italian companies, and foreign ones in general, to get in to China, overcome resistance put up against foreign products, build up a commercial network and invest in the country only to be faced with a strong and invisible enemy like the counterfeiting industry.”
ConfectioneryNews has reached out to Ferrero for comments on the most recent case.
Mars appreciates Chinese authority’s action
Mars applauded the Chinese authority’s enforcement action on the case, the firm’s spokesman Jonathan Mudd said.
“Mars places great importance on protecting our brands and trademark rights,” he said. “It is central to maintaining the trust of our customers and consumers around the world.”
Mudd added that Mars would continue to cooperate fully with authorities to protect consumers’ rights in these rare counterfeiting cases in the future.
“We firmly believe that with support from governments and appropriate authorities, we will effectively eradicate such counterfeiting practices, and protect the market order.”