Cape Town – The country’s 200 000-odd Tupperware agents are
angry about the counterfeit products being sold as the real McCoy.
“The products are identical to at least 11 of our top
sellers. We suspect they come from China,” said Allan Dando, Tupperware SA's
The direct selling group became aware of the problem last
October, but it would seem that the counterfeit products entered the local
market mid-2011. They are being sold across the country, but are seen mostly in
the Eastern Cape.
Tupperware is the only large-scale player in its field in
South Africa. Dando declines to disclose how many products Tupperware sells a
year, but that the number is in the millions.
He says there are retailers who sell plastic Tupperware-like
products, but those represent no problem to the company, because they are not
sold as Tupperware.
Tupperware items that do appear on the shelves of retailers
like Game and Makro are products on which Tupperware’s copyright has expired.
The current problem is that the word “Tupperware” appears on
the counterfeit products and they look just the same but are selling for,
say, R17 and not R175. The quality is
moreover inferior, which is hurting the Tupperware brand and its sales.
And buyers of the counterfeit products are approaching
Tupperware and demanding replacement of their purchases. These goods are
absolute rubbish, says Dando, and the buyers have to be turned away.
According to Verimark chief executive Mike van Straaten, the
direct marketing industry is increasingly struggling with fake products. Over
the past 35 years Verimark has had a great deal of experience in this regard.
Counterfeiting is definitely on the increase.
The answer, he says, is having an effective legal team that
can immediately take the necessary legal steps and confiscate the wares as
quickly as possible.
Tupperware has managed to have counterfeit goods stacked
high in a huge Johannesburg warehouse seized.
Dando says the distributors of the false goods have
particularly strong ties to the Eastern Cape – where the products are
Queenstown alone had eight points of sale.
Van Straaten says counterfeit products, which come mainly
from China, are generally flogged in informal markets by street vendors or in
so-called Chinese shopping centres. He explains that a distinction has to be
drawn between counterfeits, parallel imports and grey products. The latter
involves, for instance, the genuine products being stolen and then being sold
in an irregular way.
"One cannot permit any counterfeiting to take root. It has
to be stamped out, because this type of thing can destroy a brand."
Dando’s big problem is that his sales teams, who depend on
Tupperware sales for an income, are being badly affected by the increase in
Tupperware provides work for about 200 000 sales people in
South Africa. In the past three months some have had no income.
Dando also believes that the weaker sales are not related to
the difficult economic environment, but rather to counterfeiting. Tupperware is
growing strongly despite the economic pressure because people want to make
extra money in times such as these.
“Counterfeiting to a degree makes us the victim of our own
success because the counterfeiters know how popular the product is.”
Dando says it's essential for the public to know about the
false products because so many people’s financial stability depends on this
“Genuine Tupperware products can only be sold by registered
marketers and have a lifelong guarantee,” he notes.
For more business news in Afrikaans, go to Sake24.com.