Victory against counterfeiters

Scotch strikes a blow against fake whisky in Africa

Fake whiskyScotch whisky leaders have made a breakthrough against counterfeiters after receiving official country of origin recognition in Africa for the first time.

Scotch has been acknowledged as a ‘geographical indication’ (GI) – meaning the description can only be used on whisky produced in Scotland in accordance with UK law.

The legal breakthrough came in Botswana and will give consumers a high level of protection against fakes.

Scotch is leading the way in Botswana by becoming the first product to be recognised as a GI, following an application by the Scotch Whisky Association (SWA).

Scotch must be made in Scotland from water, cereals and yeast and matured for at least three years. Scotch is now officially recognised in the laws of more than 70 countries, including the whole of the European Union.

GI status provides great commercial value to the industry and gives consumers confidence in the quality and provenance of what they are buying.

While Botswana is a relatively small export market, the value of direct shipments of Scotch last year was up 163% to £456,728 from £173,638 in 2013. A lot of the Scotch destined for Botswana also goes through distribution hubs in South Africa.

The SWA sees great potential for Scotch across Africa as economies develop and become more urbanised. Many young professionals in Africa see Scotch as an aspirational drink of choice, according to the SWA.

But as Scotch grows in popularity, attempts are often made to try to take unfair advantage of its success, for example by trying to make and sell fakes. Recognition as a GI helps protect against such illegal activities.

David Frost, Scotch Whisky Association chief executive, said: “We expect to see demand for Scotch increase in many African countries in the coming years as economies grow. It’s important that consumers have confidence in the quality of what they are buying, which this recognition of Scotch as a ‘geographical indication’ will help to achieve.

“Botswana recognising Scotch as a GI – a product that must be made in Scotland – is ground-breaking as it’s the first product to be given this status. It’s also the first time Scotch has been successfully registered as a GI anywhere in Africa. This move will protect consumers and give a boost to the growth of Scotch exports across Africa.”

British High Commissioner to Botswana, Nick Pyle, said: “This is great news for British business in Botswana. It will give reassurance to consumers in Botswana that they are buying a quality branded product from the UK.”

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