Recently we read about an issue that we thought our readers might find interesting.  While often associated with consumer products such as apparel and electronics, counterfeiting has grown exponentially over the last decade.  This illegal practice has taken on some non-traditional products, too.  In some countries, counterfeiters are operating rogue websites and other means for selling knockoff shoes, handbags and even fake soda!

Fortunately, law enforcement agencies around the world have caught onto this and, last October, the World Customs Organization (WCO) and INTERPOL targeted organized criminal counterfeiting networks across 13 countries in South America resulting in hundreds of arrests and the seizure of fake goods, including counterfeit soft drinks.

As lawmakers seek solutions to this and other serious issues facing our nation, we’d like to remind them that the beverage industry is an important part of America’s economy.  We provide more than 208,000 good-paying jobs across our country – and help to support hundreds of thousands more that depend, in part, on beverage sales for their livelihood – with a direct economic impact of $178.5 billion. In fact, beverage companies, employees, firms and employees indirectly employed by the industry also provide significant tax revenues – nearly $26 billion at the state level and as much as $32 billion at the federal level – and generously contribute at least $1.9 billion to charitable causes in communities across the nation.

The safety of our member companies’ products and their ingredients is our foremost priority.  Counterfeiters undermine consumer confidence and jeopardize American jobs.  And the good-paying jobs that rely on the sale of food, beverages and other non-food products are important, especially as hard-working families are still pushing through a down economy.  We take great pride in the fact that our industry is a long-standing contributor to the economic engine that drives our country.