Customs officials in Hong Kong have underlined the importance of premium fresh produce brands in Asia with the reported seizure of more than 5,000 oranges from North Africa that were allegedly labelled falsely as Sunkist product.
According to local reports, the officers confiscated the fruit from two market stalls in the city's Yuen Long district after a buyer complained the oranges were more sour and had thicker skins than the genuine Sunkist-branded product.
Lam Yau-tak, head of HK Customs and Excise's intellectual property general investigation division, confirmed that two stall owners as well as three sales staff had been arrested in what was the city's first such case involving citrus.
Around 112,000 counterfeit labels were also seized following what the South China Morning Post reported had been a two-week investigation.
"The complainant ate the oranges and found them sourer than the usual ones. The skin was thicker too," said Lam.
Imported, Sunkist-labelled oranges from South Africa and California are normally sold wholesale in Hong Kong for between HK$3 and HK$4 per piece and retail for a couple of dollars more.
Lam said the counterfeit fruit cost HK$1 each and were being sold at wholesale prices.