01.Beer to clarify origin on labels
Maggie Beer has agreed to clarify the origin of some of her branded food products after discussions with the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC), acknowledging that existing labelling was likely to have been misleading and in breach of the Australian Consumer Law (ACL).
The court-enforceable undertaking relates to Maggie Beer Products' place of origin representations on the labelling of "Maggie Beer" branded :
- Ice cream (all flavours)
- Aged red wine vinegar
- Extra virgin olive oil
- Rosemary and verjuice biscuits
The representations were also made in correspondence to Woolworths and at a Woolworths store.
The ice cream, olive and biscuits are manufactured by third parties in Victoria, while the vinegar is manufactured by a third party in Queensland.
However, since at least 2011, the following text and logo has been on the labelling of these products, in close proximity to each other:
- the "Maggie Beer" logo which depicts a pheasant with the words "Maggie Beer A Barossa Food Tradition";
- the words "Made in Australia" or "Product of Australia"; and
- the words "Maggie Beer Products: 2 Keith Street Tanunda South Australia 5352".
The ACCC considered that as a result of these representations in close proximity on the labels, a reasonable consumer would have gained the overall impression that each of these products was manufactured in Tanunda, the Barossa Valley and/or South Australia, when in fact this was not the case.
"Consumers are often willing to pay premium prices for local products and businesses are following consumer demand by stocking local goods. Protecting the integrity of credence claims made about food products is a priority enforcement area for the ACCC," ACCC Chairman Rod Sims said.
"The Barossa Valley is a nationally recognised premium food and wine destination, and businesses in that region use place of origin claims to promote or distinguish their product from others in the market.
"Misleading representations about the origin of products to capitalise on this demand undermines the integrity of credence claims which are relied on by consumers and, equally important, can harm competing producers whose products are made locally," Mr Sims said.
Addressing the discussions with the ACCC, in a video on her website, Beer assures consumers it was never her intention to mislead people into thinking her products were all made in the Barossa Valley.
She explains that almost all of her products are made in the Barossa using local ingredients and suppliers where possible, and only four of her approximately 200 products are made interstate.
"If we're unable to make a product into the wider market place because of the lack of equipment or technology, we first look to South Australia then, only if we need to, go interstate."
"My products carry my name because it's my taste, it's the way I cook," she explains, assuring customers that products made elsewhere are made under her "very watchful eye. If you buy Maggie Beer, you get Maggie Beer."
"I apologise unreservedly to anyone who feels they may have been misled by the old labels on these four products.... I would never want to mislead anyone."