Security Labels: Labels and packaging can help protect consumer goods in the high-stakes game of counterfeiting.

Author:Hrinya, Greg

While many labels are designed to pop on the shelf, security labels might be hiding their best features in plain sight. The fight against counterfeit goods and product diversion continues on a massive scale. Some companies might lose money, but there are significant dangers to fake goods in a range of sectors, including cosmetics, food, pharmaceuticals and more.

"The Global Brand Counterfeiting and Trademark Infringement Report, 2018" by R Strategic Global states that counterfeit goods are expected to be a $1.95 trillion market by 2022. According to Jay Wittmann, product manager. Intelligent Labels at Avery Dennison, counterfeit pharmaceuticals represent the biggest counterfeit market, valued at $200 billion.

The label and surrounding packaging can play a pivotal role in protecting brands and consumers. Security implies that the consumer is receiving the actual good for which he or she is paying.

"Labels are the least expensive and most versatile way to add anti-counterfeiting features to a product," says Tom Erickson, vice president of manufacturing at The Label Printers. "Labels can contain counterfeit-fighting covert measures like micro-printing, invisible inks, and varnishes containing taggants or DNA, to overt measures such as holography, color shifting inks, serialization and barcodes. Barcode technology can be combined with writable databases to create track-and-trace systems that follow products throughout their supply chain, from factory to end user. While not practical to use all of these technologies on one label, these often work best when two or more are combined."

Brands must ask multiple questions when analyzing their needs and appropriate courses of action to protect their products. "Two key details need to be determined first: how the product is being distributed, and who will inspect the product to determine if it is counterfeit," says Paul Purdef, marketing director, Durables, Avery Dennison Label and Packaging Materials. "Pharmaceutical products, for example, begin at the manufacturer and may then be sent to a distributor. They could take one path to a retailer to be purchased by a consumer, or could be sent to a doctor's office or hospital where they would be administered by a healthcare professional. Understanding the journey of the product will help to identify each touch point at which it could be inspected for counterfeiting. Multiple pieces of information will guide the selection of a labeling material that is difficult to reproduce and has an identifiable characteristic that indicates that...

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