Wine: future prospects and zero tolerance towards counterfeiting

Nov 20, 2019

“Wine is bottled poetry”. It is necessary to internalize this aphorism of Robert Louis Balfour Stevenson – Scottish writer, playwright and poet – to understand how important it is to have a cultural approach to analyze the economic dynamics of the drink of the gods. The brilliant entrepreneur Matteo Panzavolta, founder and CEO of Acatena, a Swiss start-up focused on the implementation of blockchain for luxury brands, offers added value in terms of scientific and entrepreneurial elements.

Discussing with Dr. Panzavolta about the wine galaxy means deepening unexplored meanders that are often at the root of some market distortions. Panzavolta himself, considering that the first estimates of global wine production in 2019 estimate a decrease of 10% compared to last year – with Italy down by 15% – informs us that: “It is a general trend to favor quality over quantity. All this is more evident in some Italian regions where the selection of grapes and production processes have improved exponentially in the last two decades with an impact on the quantities (more contained) and quality and average price (significantly higher) not forgetting that wine is increasingly seen as a premium product, to be consumed in moderation and therefore with an average price that justifies this type of consumption and improved quality”.

Going on with the analysis, Panzavolta, with a capacity to analyze world production estimated at around 263 million hectoliters or about 30 less than in 2018, but with similar values over the period from 2007 to 2016, adds that “There are variables linked to climatic situations that vary from year to year and that have an impact on grape production”.

In general, however, the wine market is increasingly focusing on quality, on the creation of unique, authentic products that meet the needs of increasingly educated and informed wine lovers.

“Consumers have an ever-increasing desire to consume products that offer a precise identity of their origin, production processes, ingredients and their impact on health”, he added. New consumers want to know the history of their wine instantly, so as to enjoy not only a delicious glass of wine, but taste the entire history, the entire journey.

All this, however, provided that the counterfeiting industry does not continue to drug the market. Moreover, research carried out by the European Union’s Office for Intellectual Property (EUIPO) has shown that 4.4 % of legitimate alcohol sales and 2.3 % of wine sales are lost each year as a result of counterfeiting in the alcohol industry, with the direct loss of 4 800 jobs in the relevant fields.

“The wine and spirits sector in the EU is overwhelmingly made up of small and medium-sized enterprises, each employing an average of 10 employees. The study highlights the economic impact of counterfeiting in this area and its consequences for the EU economy as a whole. The conclusions we have drawn are intended to assist policy makers in responding to the problems caused by counterfeiting in this crucial part of the economy”, said António Campinos, EUIPO’s Executive Director.

In this regard, Panzavolta’s vision is as clear as it is irreproachable: “At a structural level, we need to invest in information and education about our oenological heritage, perhaps linking it to the complexity and beauty of Italian history and artistic heritage. We need to achieve a real cultural revolution in this sense by explaining the story behind a bottle of wine. Only this way can we defeat these evildoers who put the health of consumers at serious risk”.

“In this regard – he adds – new technologies, such as those used by Acatena, help to prevent attempts at counterfeiting, fraud and parallel markets in order to protect our precious brands and the Made in Italy in general”.

Panzavolta is a flooding river: “Technology must offer in a simple way the possibility to solve problems, respond to unmet needs or partially met needs but improving the customer experience.

Consumers demand transparency and traceability, elements on which to base a direct and unfiltered dialogue with the producer for a more authentic market. Transparency will be a fundamental lever. Moreover, it is becoming increasingly clear that having the status of “organic” or DOC no longer fully satisfies the consumer. Therefore, Acatena is creating a world where each product has an identity protected by a physical and digital mechanism (European patent pending) based on the innovative blockchain and “internet of things” technologies”.

Panzavolta, being a practical entrepreneur, offers the behavioral example: “With a simple “tap” of a smartphone, a consumer can check the authenticity of the product before buying it and check if the bottle has remained intact along the supply chain and that there have been no attempts to open the bottle, and therefore to counterfeit it. Acatena is creating a world where a wine lover can not only enjoy an excellent wine, but taste its entire history: the vineyard, the harvest, the production process and distribution, ending with the glass.

With Acatena, it will soon be possible to digitalize and democratize the “en primeur” process used, above all, in Bordeaux and Burgundy to sell wines before they mature, in order to guarantee positive cash flows for producers. It is estimated that about 25% of the wine sold “en primeur” is subject to fraud and counterfeiting. With Acatena, the whole process becomes transparent and safe”.

“With regard to the commitment of the European Parliament, which has granted high patronage to the opening ceremony of the ‘European City of Wine 2019’ – considers our guest – I would like to point out that Italian wine is among the excellence of our beautiful country as well as olive oil and other important unique products of our nation. We must protect this immense heritage. Acatena’s goal is to eliminate at the source attempts at counterfeiting, in order to protect, preserve and promote the Made in Italy in the world. In this regard, it seems useful to me to point out, also considering the fallacious similar tools used in recent years by combining the Blockchain with the QR code, that the quality of our technology offers guarantees and real certainty to consumers. I repeat that wine is not just a drink, but an experience that tells the story of a territory, its complexity, its moments of splendor and its sorrows”.

Come and meet Acatena at wine2wine 2019!