Are we drinking Fake or Duplicate Alcoholic drink?
But it is important to discuss the issue because the market size and drinking population in India is huge. Net sales of United Breweries and United Spirits put together itself was nearly Rs. 14,113 Crores in FY 2015-16.
On this platform, at least we can discuss consumer grievances and caution people. Therefore I am putting my views forward, which I wanted to share since long but couldn't find an appropriate platform.
My personal opinion is that, today, more than 60% of Alcoholic drinks being sold in Indian market, are either fake or duplicate. The figure of 60% looks simple but let us not forget to appreciate that, it means more than “one and half times” (40%) of original drink. This includes those sold by Wine shops, Restaurants and even Star Hotels (3 Stars and above).
At several occasions I come across with fake or duplicate Alcoholic drinks. When I raised the issue, my drink was changed without a word asked and I was not charged for the fake drink. The reason for not charging was simple that, if it was not billed, I will not have any evidence of buying fake drink and will not be able to lodge any complaint with any appropriate authority
Let us examine the reason for abundance of fake alcoholic drinks in the market, with suitable examples. Let us consider the State of Maharashtra. If the manufacturing cost 750 ml bottle of a Indian Made Foreign Liquor (IMFL) is Rs. 65, Excise Duty would be Rs. 195, VAT Rs. 97.50 and MRP of Rs. 422.50 leaving a margin of Rs. 65 for the manufacturer, out of which the manufacturer is supposed to pay transportation, Distributor & Retailers margins and other local taxes and duties as applicable. Whereas total Excise and VAT paid itself work out to Rs. 292.50.
Similarly, in case of Mild Beer, if the manufacturing cost of 650 ml bottle is Rs. 25, Excise Duty would be Rs. 37.50, VAT Rs. 26.25, MRP of Rs. 113.75, manufacturer's margin of Rs. 25 and total of Excise and VAT Rs. 63.75 per bottle.
In view of these facts, the manufacturer is left hardly with any margin after paying transportation, Distributor & Retailers margins and other local taxes and duties.
In case of fake drinks, all Government duties and taxes are avoided whereas there is no difference in MRP making it a lucrative business. These avoided Government Taxes and duties are shared between Manufacturer, Dealers, Distributors and greasing Government machinery. Since the revenue involved is huge, the matter is deep rooted.
Now, let me share the method by which I differentiate a fake drink from a genuine one:
1. Try to find Batch Number and date of manufacturing on the pack. But, not necessarily, if the Batch No. and date is mentioned, the products is genuine. But if it is not mentioned, it is definitely fake.
2. In case of Beer, take a small sip, roll it in the mouth for a few seconds and then spit it or swallow. If a tail end bitter taste id found on the tongue, instead of a smooth taste, the Beer is fake.
3. In case of IMFL, I smell the drink. If there is a strong pungent smell, instead of typical odour of that particular brand, the drink is fake.
4. In case of drinking a fake drink, I run with upset stomach and severe gastric problem and that's why I don't accept a fake drink.
My observation is that, more popular (Fast Moving) the brand, there are more chances of its being fake. Also, more expensive the product, more vulnerable it is for being fake because it leaves better margins for the manufacturer.
The question which still remained unanswered for me is that, who manufactures these fake drinks? What could be the source of such a huge volumes of Bottles, Labels, Caps, Seals, dispensers and other packaging material in the same design and pattern as in case of genuine ones? Bottles can be recycled, but what about other packaging material?
My objective of sharing this information is to caution common people so that they can be protected from drinking fake drinks and may be, if possible, alert State Governments so that they can crack such fake Alcoholic Drink Mafia and generate better revenue for the development of their respective States, if they are not already aware of the issue. more