Imitation harms cleaning products industry in Idlib

Product counterfeiting strains the owners of original products in Idlib city, northwestern Syria - October 12, 2023 (Enab Baladi/Anas al-Khouli)

Product counterfeiting strains the owners of original products in Idlib city, northwestern Syria - October 12, 2023 (Enab Baladi/Anas al-Khouli)


Idlib – Anas al-Khouli

The imitation of cleaning products is burdening Anwar, the owner of a cleaning products factory in the city of Idlib, northwestern Syria. The lower-quality imitations, with similar packaging, have damaged the reputation of his products and caused significant financial losses, preventing him from developing new varieties, according to him.

Anwar Khodr Mathbouh (45 years) told Enab Baladi that he inherited the cleaning product manufacturing from his father and grandfather. He has owned his own factory for 15 years, and developing a single model costs him a significant amount of money for tests, experiments, and efforts. After its launch, the product becomes highly popular and gains a good reputation for the factory.

He mentioned that after the success of the product and the increase in demand, some people imitate the external packaging of the product and the labels on it, filling it with “inferior” materials and then selling it in the markets at a lower price. This causes financial losses for the original product owner and damages the reputation of the product.

There are business projects in Idlib that produce locally made materials, not all of which are regulated, and markets are filled with products of similar packaging and names, which worries and harms the original product owner.

Imitation hinders business development

Anwar explained that the imitation process harms the factory’s reputation and hinders the development of new varieties for fear of damaging the reputation of the new ones, as the development process can be costly. He also pointed out the state of great chaos in the markets and the lack of oversight by relevant authorities on the products.

Anwar tried to protect his products from imitation and filed a complaint with the Supply Control Authority in the Salvation Government operating in the area. The authority referred him to the Directorate of Property Protection, and Anwar provided the directorate with samples of the counterfeited products, in which the imitation rate reached 90%, but he received nothing but promises to solve the problem, according to him.

On the other hand, some small business owners, including cleaning products manufacturers, do not rely on imitation. They use basic packaging such as plastic bags without the need for labels or product names, considering it an additional cost, and they only sell their products in the neighborhoods where they live and nearby areas.

“Association” for cleaning products

The chaos in the cleaning products industry and the lack of protection for industrial items led factory owners to form an association to represent them and demand their rights under the name of the “Craft Association for Cleaning Products,” which operates in cooperation with the government authorities in the Salvation Government.

The association works on establishing internal regulations, organizing the craft of cleaning product manufacturing, and specifying the standards of products available in the markets to prevent counterfeiting them.

The president of the association, Youssef Mohammed Eid Zaidan, the owner of the “Al-Yamama” cleaning products company, told Enab Baladi that it is essential to have laws and regulations to control this industry and a certificate of origin for all imported and displayed materials in the markets, defining their specifications and nature.

Zaidan pointed out the suffering of industrialists in the region from chaos and the presence of products in markets with unknown sources that do not comply with standard specifications. This prompted industrialists to collaborate with the Chamber of Industry in the Ministry of Economy, affiliated with the Salvation Government, to establish the association.

Zaidan, who has been in the cleaning products industry for 28 years, explained that the association was founded by 50 licensed factory owners for cleaning products. After the elections, five of them succeeded in managing the association, which is currently working on establishing internal regulations and cooperating with the Chamber of Industry to determine the specifications of products allowed to be distributed in the markets.

Zaidan considered one of the most important goals of the association to be the organization of the cleaning products industry and to urge unlicensed factories to obtain licenses and cooperate with the Chamber of Industry to establish laboratories to ensure the quality of products and protect consumers. They also coordinate with government entities regarding the non-compliant products available in the markets.

He added that regulating the manufacturing process helps develop the industry in line with international standards and encourages export and foreign demand for local goods, which positively affects the industry and the overall economic situation.

Counterfeiting and manipulation of specifications, along with the addition of table salt instead of the active ingredient in percentages exceeding 70%, have damaged the reputation of local cleaning products and closed the door to their export, according to Zaidan.

He also pointed out that the specifications in this industry should be carefully studied to provide balanced results and not harm people’s health or finances.

The General Manager of Trade and Supply in the Salvation Government, Mohammad al-Suleiman, explained to Enab Baladi that the directorate carries out periodic inspections to control the markets and commercial activities and strives, within its available capabilities, to prevent product imitation or counterfeiting.

He mentioned that the Directorate of Property Protection receives all complaints related to this matter and investigates them. When it confirms the existence of a violation, it takes measures against the violator.



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