Japanese manufacturers of disposable diapers face a seemingly endless war against counterfeit baby nappies being sold in China, where trust for domestic baby products have faltered over safety concerns.
Daio Paper Corp, one of the leading diaper manufacturers in Japan, launched a crackdown on fake copies of its “Goo.n” disposable diapers in September after receiving complaints from consumers. Chinese authorities confiscated imitations of the Japan-made diapers and fined the illegal operators selling the pirated products.
But the diaper war doesn’t end there as demand continues to surge in China.
Fake diapers are almost indistinguishable from the real ones, down to the packaging and how the diapers look, officials at Daio said.
“They are elaborately made that at first viewers would never notice they are fake,” said Yasuro Tomatsuri, chief of Daio’s intellectual property section.
They are also being sold in China for twice their market prices at home. Fake Daio products fetch 155 to 185 yuan, nearly double their price in Japan.
Other Japanese diaper makers, such as Kao Corp and Unicharm Corp, have also fallen victim to counterfeit Chinese diapers.
Kao’s “Merries” diapers were reportedly shipped to China through unauthorized channels, The Asahi Shimbun reports.
“We will not only investigate the fact of unauthorized shipments, but will also take strict measures if we find any imitation products in China,” a Kao official said.
Leading Japanese maker Unicharm, known for its “Moony” diapers, said it has anti-piracy task forces in Japan and China but imitation products are still found in the market.
“New ones keep popping up, no matter how many we may dig out,” a Unicharm representative said. “There is no end to this game.”
China is a rapidly growing market for diapers, which are considered a luxury. The Japan External Trade Organization has estimated the market size at 10.2 billion yuan (170 billion yen or $1.7 billion) in 2013, triple the size from five years ago.
By Maesie Bertumen