Would you buy ‘fake’ alcohol?

Earlier this  month PwC published their ‘Counterfeit goods in the UK – Consumer survey’. It’s pretty surprising; a whopping  fifth of respondents admitted to buying fake alcohol…even though 90% think it’s ‘morally wrong’ to buy knock offs.

Fake Wine

According to the survey of the 1,073 UK residents  questioned ‘sometimes purchase counterfeit alcohol’. People who live in Northern Ireland were the biggest culprits; 24% of people admitted to buying fake alcohol…and clothing, accessories, films and music. Perhaps not surprisingly, it’s the under 35s who are the worst offenders.

The survey found that 70% think it’s ‘easy’ or ‘very easy’ to buy fake alcohol. It’s thought that most of this ‘fake’ alcohol refers to spirits but counterfeit wine has been a problem in recent years too – from fine wine fraud to dodgy bottle in the local corner shop.

Fake Alcohol

In July this year the problem was so advanced that the Local Government Association felt compelled to issue a warning about ‘cheap plonk’ after bottles of counterfeit  Jacob’s Creek and Blossom Hill were discovered. Customs officials have seized nearly 15m litres of fake alcohol since 2005.

Technological advances have made it easier for  counterfeiters to access markets; the internet has made it easier than ever to set up a business, even one that’s not legitimate, and to reach the market. In tough times people seem unwilling to forgo the idea of ‘luxury’ but are evidently less concerned with the content.


Clearly buying counterfeit alcohol is not a good idea. What on earth is in ‘fake’ booze? Just a small peak online is enough to make your hair stand on end…toxic chemicals, cleaning fluid, nail-polish remover, anti-freeze…

Watch for elementary errors,  such as spelling mistakes on labels, badly applied labels and unfamiliar brands. And of course buy brands that you are familiar with from places you trust. Nobody wants a glass of nail polish remover!

Sources and further reading:

Decanter – One in five buy counterfeit alcohol in UK

BBC – NI is UK regions’ counterfeit capital, says report

Mirror – Nearly one in five Britons have splashed out on counterfeit alcohol, survey  reveals

The Independent – Bad booze: Students warned about dangers of counterfeit alcohol

Just Drinks – UK: One in five buy fake alcohol in UK

The Guardian – Surge in purchases of counterfeit goods


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